Monday, December 27, 2010

Annuals of Christmas 1970


When IPC had taken the Odhams comics under its wing in 1968 Smash! had been the only remnant of the five "Power Comics". IPC swiftly revamped Smash! into a clone of Lion and Valiant, but they still had the annuals to produce. Although Pow! and Wham! comics had ended a couple of years earlier I assume the annuals still sold well, so IPC retained the titles and published that year's Pow! Annual with a completely new line-up of characters never seen before, - or since!

The book's 80 pages featured ten brand new strips
all superby illustrated, mostly featuring new British superheroes! Here's the line up:

Here's a few of the characters. Bathed by the light of a passing UFO, Sandy Laker gained magnetic powers to become Magno, Man of Magnetism...


When Bob Shane saved the lift of Neptunius the hermit he was granted the power to become Aquavenger...


Accidentally sent back in time to the 20th Century, Mr.Tomorrow, Criminal from the Future, uses his knowledge to try and rule the world. (He fails by the way.)


Zapped in an accident at work, power plant worker Eddie Edwards becomes the superhero Electro...


...and who could fail to fear Norstad of the Deep?


The book is a bit of a mystery. Why did IPC go to the expense of creating 80 pages of new characters instead of filling it with funnies and Spider-Man reprints as in previous years? (IPC still had the rights to use Marvel characters as they ran them in TV21 around that time.) I don't recognize the artwork but it looks European. Was this reprinted in other countries, or did they just use European artists to save money? Whatever the story is behind the book, Pow! Annual 1970 remains a unique collector's item.



When it came to that year's Smash Annual IPC decided to revamp it in the same way they had the weekly. Therefore it leapt from the 80 page format it had during Odhams' run to a massive 160 pages, albeit with lots of reprint. A striking Geoff Campion cover showed us home-grown superhero Tri-Man bashing three crooks, whilst inside the Tri-Man strip was a nice full colour job by Ron Turner, giving us a totally different colour scheme for the costume. (The strip's weekly artist was Solano Lopez.)


Lopez was also the regular weekly artist on Master of the Marsh and Janus Stark, but not here. His annual assignment had been taken up by another artist. (It looks like the style of the artist who had drawn The Two Faces of Janus for Pow! but I don't know his name.)




Cursitor Doom's regular artist, Eric Bradbury, was present though, illustrating an atmospheric 8 pager. Or at least it would have been atmospheric if the art editor hadn't added green to it.


The funnies were present too, with Leo Baxendale providing us with Bad Penny and a couple of great Swots and Blots strips...


Amongst the reprints were Gordon Hogg's The Beat Boys, otherwise known as The Wacks when they had originally appeared in Wham!


Speaking of Wham! IPC decided to leave well alone with the annual for that year and instead of revamping the title it became the last resting place for the old weekly characters. For one final time, they all appeared together in the Wham! Annual 1971...


The lively cover by Gordon Hogg led into a spread on the inside with the characters causing havoc in the Bloody Tower...


Various collectors and sellers on eBay etc often think that Leo Baxendale contributed to every issue of Wham! and every annual. This is not the case and has led to confusion by some people over what actually is Leo's style. Most of the strips in the Wham! Annual 1970 were drawn by Cyril Price or Gordon Hogg, with a few by Terry Bave, Norman Mansbridge, and Mike Brown. This Tiddlers strip for example is by Cyril Price...


Georgie's Germs is also by Cyril Price. Lovely artwork and completely different to Baxendale's style...


Glugg was by Gordon Hogg. Quite a rough ending for ol' Glugg here...


Although Eagle-Eye, Junior Spy was initially by Baxendale in the weekly, before being taken over by Mike Lacey and others, the strips in this annual were drawn by Mike Brown, which is signed by him as you can see...


I'm not sure who the artist was on Frankie Stein in this book but it's definitely not by Ken Reid. (Whoever the artist was he went on the draw The Spooks of St.Lukes for Thunder weekly.)


Although the book is using fill-in artists on most of the strips it's still a great swan-song to the much loved characters. The writers are uncredited but it's possible it's entirely the work of Les Lilley who, according to his obituary (written by Denis Gifford) had written entire Wham annuals.

The following year IPC would turn Wham! Annual into a reprint vehicle for old Eagle strips bizarrely enough, and then merge Pow! Annual into it for 1973 and 1974. However, for the 1971 book, it ends with General Nitt and his Barmy Army in one final battle with General Hardup...


Incidentally, that same year IPC produced a spin-off called the Smash! Fun Book, which I covered on this blog here:
http://lewstringer.blogspot.com/2009/01/comic-oddities-smash-fun-book-1971.html

9 comments:

MOOCHER said...

I remember the Pow Book!!Could we see the strips bigger?My old eyes are straining to read them.Flatscan would be better.Cheers and a Happy New Year!!

Lew Stringer said...

If you click on the images, then click again, you'll see them larger. I didn't scan them this time as the binding would be damaged if I laid them flat. I took photos instead. I think they're legible enough and hopefully it gives you a sense of looking at the actual books rather than a scan. Happy New Year Moocher!

Annette said...

Wow - bringing back some memories for me - great site! :)

Simon Williams said...

Reading this convinced me to hunt down a copy of the 1971 Pow book. Just managed to find a copy on Amazon! Looks awesome, and can't wait to read it.

On another note... hope you had a great Christmas Lew! Best wishes for 2011 :o)

Manic Man said...

a bit of a suprise, but i can help a little tiny bit..

Leopoldo Ortiz was the artist for Norstad of the Deep. Book Palace, which is... an okay place, has a couple of pieces of the oringal art from the Pow Annual by Leopoldo Ortiz:
http://www.bookpalace.com/acatalog/Home_Leopoldo_Ortiz_Art_875.html

compareing the art with a quick check of up Leopoldo Ortiz's work does seam to comfirm it is probebly him.

Going from the same source (or more, there other site) we find Magno was drawn by Miguel Quesada (So we have a very spanish feel so far), Mr Tomorrow was Matias Alonso, Aquavenger was Victor Ibanez, Ectro was Jose Ortiz (Ah ha! a name i know!) and there was a strip called Time-Rider in it by Victor Ibanez, one called Esper by Enric Badia Romero, and the Phantom was by Eustaquio Segrelles.

As for the writers/writer/creator.. no clue But that should be some nice information for ya

James Spiring said...

"Pow! Annual 1970 remains a unique collector's item." - you mean 1971.

For Wham 1972, if they wanted to use Eagle reprints, perhaps they should've actually called it Eagle Annual? There must've been some confused kids wondering why the annual was so different to the previous one that Christmas. Eagle and Wham are like chalk and cheese.

Happy new year!

Lew Stringer said...

Many thanks Manic! You did the research that I should have done. I thought one strip looked like Romero's work (the artist of Modesty Blaise!) and should have checked.

_____

James, personally I enjoyed the unusual contents of the 1972 Wham annual back then. As for younger kids, they wouldn't have been familiar with Eagle or Wham by 1971 (as both comics had folded in the Sixties) so I guess they'd have accepted it just as an exciting adventure book.

escole61 said...

I was surfing the web looking for a WHAM annual that my sister bought for me some time ago when we were kids. I was fond of the stories inside and one in particular stuck in my mind. I came across your blog sight and can remember a frogman in the water like the 1972 WHAM! Annual. Does it have Western a story of a young and old cowboy that get mixed up with General Custer's
7th Cavalry? I ask because I wish to aquire from Amazon or Ebay but want to get the right one for nostalgic reasons.

Lew Stringer said...

Yes, Wham! Annual 1972 is the one you want, with the frogman on the cover as you said. It features "Last Stand", a reprint of a Jeff Arnold story from Eagle with the storyline you're thinking of.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...