Monday, June 23, 2014

Classic Action Holiday Special (1990)


In early summer 1990, Fleetway released the Classic Action Holiday Special, a 52 page one-off reviving several of their old characters in brand new stories. 

It's a bit of an oddity because although the comic is obviously partly targeted at readers who would remember those heroes from Valiant, BusterTiger, and Lion (readers who would be adults by 1990) the stories themselves are written for children. In most instances, children a bit younger than the audience the characters were originally aimed at. The end results are stories that feel too simplistic for the nostalgic crowd whilst being perhaps too old fashioned for kids of the 1990s. 

Whatever its drawbacks, it was good to see Fleetway attempting to revive those old heroes, and interesting to see different artists tackling them where the original artists were no longer available. The special kicked off with a four page Kelly's Eye story drawn by John Cooper...


Then onto a four page full colour Robot Archie story drawn by Sandy James. Curiously, Archie was back to his original silent self (as he was in the 1950s) which was a shame as the vocal Archie of the 1960s/70s had been quite amusing. 


Next, a four page Steel Claw story. Eduardo Vano Ibarra (Vanyo) is the artist here I think. (None of the strips are credited.) By 1990, and their audience getting younger, publishers were nervous about showing certain scenes in comics in the fear of kids imitating them. In the 1960's, when Fleetway granted its readers with more sense, Louis Crandell was often shown shoving the fingers of his Steel Claw into light sockets or grabbing live wires to activate his invisibility. This presented a problem for the revival of the strip. The solution? Have Crandell suddenly struck by lightning! Stretching credibility even for this strip, but the idea being that kids couldn't imitate an act of nature.


A three page Skid Solo reprint followed, and then a new five page text story featuring Galaxus with illustrations by John Cooper...


Next, a new episode of a very old strip; Jet-Ace Logan, drawn by John Gillatt, one of the original artists of the strip back in its Tiger days...


A six page Janus Stark story followed. Not sure who the artist is.


A four page full colour Johnny Cougar strip next, by Sandy James, one of its original artists...


Finally, a new four page Captain Hurricane strip by R. Charles Roylance, who had drawn the strip in its original run...


There were also a few reprint features and a couple of Norman Mansbridge Autograph Albert funnies in the special. Overall, an interesting package despite my reservations about the scripts, and worth hunting down if you were a fan of those classic characters. 

4 comments:

Hibernia Comics said...

Thanks for the low down on that Lew, I have bid on it a few times on Ebay the few times it has appeared, but it has escaped me.
Very interesting to hear that it original material, I had thought it was reprint.
A carry on from the 2000ad Action Special? Another interesting bit is that Fleetway did not own these character to reuse them, which leaves Kelly Eye in 2000ad, the 2000AD Action Special and this Special a bit in limbo.
Nice to see a full name for Vanyo, there was three of that name though, father and two sons, and sometime working in collaboration, which confuses the credits.
Fantastic artist, Death Wish probably his best work, but I have a soft spot for Storm Force from the latter days of Battle.

Lew Stringer said...

It's likely that a few people thought it was all reprint, and I suppose having 'Classic' in the title didn't help. All new though, except for the three page Skid Solo reprint and a handful of feature pages and humour strips.

This special preceded the 2000AD Action Special by two years. Yes, quite an oversight that IPC still owned the characters without new Fleetway being aware of it.

keepsakes said...

I bought this when it came out, as a 12 year old who was unfamiliar with most if not all of the characters but was interested in old comics (which seemed to be generally of a higher standard than contemporary ones) and was always looking out for them, both in second-hand shops and as reprint publications. Even at 12 I found most of the stories rather silly as you suggest but was glad of it as a sort of primer. By far the character which interested me most was Janus Stark, whose original strips I later sought out.

Lew Stringer said...

Yes, the early Janus Stark strips from SMASH! (1969) are very good indeed. Excellent Solano Lopez art portraying a grimy, poverty-stricken Victorian England.

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