Tuesday, December 30, 2014

New Year SMASH! (1969)

Here's the cover to the New Year edition of Smash! dated 4th January 1969, so it'd go on sale on the 28th December 1968. The popular Swots and the Blots were the regular cover strip by this time, drawn by Mike Lacey. The strip continued over the page...
Not many of the strips were actually celebrating New Year. Some of the humour strips just seemed be be using the cold weather as a plot. However, Bad Penny combined references to the New Year as well as a plot involving snow. "Jumping jellybabies! It's 1969!" Artwork by the ever-brilliant Leo Baxendale...

The Cloak began a new adventure that week. No Hogmanay reference as such, but it did feature a Scottish villain, - The Phantom Piper! It also contained the return of the stunning Lady Shady who became a regular member of The Cloak's team. Creator Mike Higgs also introduced The Cloakster in this episode, giving us males an excuse that we were only buying it for the car articles and not to gawp at Lady Shady's cleavage. 

Smash! had a good mixture of content in those days. Sadly it was the last man standing as regards the five 'Power Comics' and the recent merger with Fantastic had brought in reprints of Marvel's Thor by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby...
...along with reprints of Lee and Kirby's The Fantastic Four, which had arrived via a merger with Pow! As you can see, the panels had been rearranged and edited from the original American format to fit approximately two US pages onto one of Smash's large pages.
With this being Smash! it also featured Batman of course, reprinting the American newspaper strips of the time.
A few home-grown adventure strips were also in the comic, including Brian's Brain, drawn by Barrie Mitchell...
Ken Reid was getting into the swing of his run on The Nervs with this excellent two pager. For me, these strips represent Ken at his greatest.

On the back page, Sammy Shrink in a post-Christmas story about a late present. Nice clear storytelling by Terry Bave, who would soon become very prolific when IPC launched their own humour comics.
As you may have noticed from the indicia on page 2, IPC Magazines were now in charge of Smash! instead of Odhams. Sadly, a few weeks later, they'd make their presence felt and they'd transform the comic into an unrecognisable form as a traditional boy's adventure weekly. As readers at the time we didn't know that of course, enjoying The Cloak, The Nervs, Batman, and the Marvel reprints, unaware that they'd soon be gone from the comic forever. The sixties were definitely ending. 

...but 2015 is about to begin! My thanks to you all for following this blog over the past 12 months and may I wish you a Happy New Year and hope that you continue to read (and comment) for as long as it lasts. We can never predict what a new year will bring us but we can only hope for happiness, good health, and prosperity. Here's all the best for 2015!      

18 comments:

Irmantas said...

Lew, I’ve been a regular albeit usually silent reader of your blog since I discovered British comics some seven years ago. Your posts on Odhams Power Comics got me interested in the titles and inspired me to collect complete sets, so thanks for that! A Happy New Year to you!

Lew Stringer said...

Happy New Year! Good to hear from you Irmantas, and I'm pleased to hear this blog inspired you to seek out those great comics. I have complete sets if all except for Wham! I have most of them though so I'm not pursuing them any more. (Although I couldn't resist buying the 1964 Christmas issue recently, which I showed here last week.)

I'm curious, - how do those Odhams comics appear to you, discovering them 'new' as it were? I'm biased because I grew up with them so I love every aspect of them, but I wonder if they might seem a bit scrappy compared to the IPC comics that followed them? Not in art so much, but in the overall design and presentation.

Irmantas said...

A bit scrappy is probably the right expression. To me they have a feel of fanzines, particularly SMASH!, certainly more so than later IPC titles. I am not a fan of American superhero comics which appear to have been a very important ingredient in the Power Comics mix. I understand it is one of the reasons why some people have fond memories of the titles. Humour strips are my favourite ones.

Lew Stringer said...

When I was a kid I didn't really notice how sloppy some of the page design was, even though I was reading the far slicker Dandy and TV21 at the time. I think the same editorial staff basically had to deal with all five Power Comics, so the more comics they did, the scrappier they became, no doubt due to time constraints. Even so, they'll always be my favourite comics and I always preferred their more irreverent (and sometimes bizarre) humour to the more restrained IPC comics.

I think some of us have a fondness for those Marvel reprints because it's how we first discovered American comics. They just seemed so much more dynamic than the British strips, although I liked those too.

Anyway, thanks for commenting!

Bruce Laing said...

A very Happy New Year to you and everyone who reads the blog,

Lew Stringer said...

Happy New Year Bruce! Best of luck in 2015.

John Pitt said...

Happy New Year to you too, Bruce.

John Pitt said...

Sadly I had given up on Smash by now, I wish I had stuck with it, so it's good to see a little bit of " four Power comics condensed into one ".

Dr Andy Oliver said...

Thanks for this Lew. I was also encouraged by your posts to seek out and get hold of Oldham copies. No complete runs but this post did prompt me to dig out my own copy of Smash 153 and read Bad Penny and Swots/Blots to my boys tonight. The loved the bad penny strip. A very happy new year to you Lew and thanks for all the recent posts.

Paul McScotty -Muir said...

That Ken Reid strip is just amazing, I'm pretty sure he used a similar theme (ie using the fire brigade characters) in another "Nerves" story (unless I'm thinking of this one) that was just a good.

Interesting to hear Irmantas comments on the Odhams comics as like you Lew I never really noticed at the time either just how "scrappy" some of the strips were (although I was aware the Cloak look less professional than other strips). However when I started collecting them again (for Ken Reids art initially) my thoughts were the same as Irmantas' as I also thought they looked like fan publications in places as well - great stuff again Lew and I hope 2015 is a better year for you (and a good one for everyone else - "hoots mon"!)

Lew Stringer said...

I'm sure if I continue to ignore the baiting by nuisances it'll be a better year in one respect at least Paul, thanks. By the way, I don't think the strips themselves were scrappy, just the layout of the comic at times, - the house ads, letters pages, some covers of Pow!, stuff like that.

Lew Stringer said...

Happy New Year to you too, Andy. Glad to hear you also got into the Odhams comics. Good to know your lads liked Bad Penny 45 years after it was published. A true classic.

Gez F. said...

The Cloak was really well drawn. Look at that car. Loved Mik's style. Moonbird forever!

Irmantas said...

I did’t mean that the strips were “scrappy” – I was referring more to the general feel of the papers. I don’t think the Cloak artwork looks less professional. It is different but I think it is very good and I can imagine that back in the 60s it was perceived as fresh and innovative. Speaking of “scrappy” strips in Power Comics, I think Wee Willie Haggis in POW! might qualify. It wasn’t quite up to the standard, IMHO.

paddykool said...

Happy New Year Lew. Always look forward to your posts. I can only say that the "Power" comics like Smash , Wham and Pow revitalized the comic scene at the time .To me , the fact that they had a fanzine feel was a plus.It's no accident that Tony Roche launched British and Irish comic fandom with his Merry Marvel Fanzine through those very pages.We readers felt that the creators really loved comics.

Lew Stringer said...

Happy New Year Paddykool. Yes, good point about those comics being important to the beginnings of fandom. They also promoted the very first UK comic con too of course, due to one of its organisers (Steve Moore) being on the Odhams staff:

http://lewstringer.blogspot.co.uk/2007/01/power-comics-and-comics-fandom.html

Lew Stringer said...

Gez, Irmantas, I agree. I think The Cloak looked different because Mike had different stylistic influences than the other artists. His style is influenced by people such as Peter Maddocks, C.C. Beck, Elzie Segar, and Chester Gould, rather than the usual British comic influences. Which sadly was why he didn't conveniently fit into IPC's vision of comics. Their loss.

Lew Stringer said...

Gez, Irmantas, I agree. I think The Cloak looked different because Mike had different stylistic influences than the other artists. His style is influenced by people such as Peter Maddocks, C.C. Beck, Elzie Segar, and Chester Gould, rather than the usual British comic influences. Which sadly was why he didn't conveniently fit into IPC's vision of comics. Their loss.

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