This week in 1979 D.C. Thomson had a new title on the stands. The Crunch was a more dynamic, more brutal comic than their usual adventure papers and was perhaps their attempt to rival IPC's 2000AD.
Truth be told, D.C. Thomson had instigated this new breed of dynamic comics for boys when they launched Warlord in 1974 (which in turn inspired IPC to launch Battle, then Action, and 2000AD). The Crunch was just following what Warlord had begun with page designs that led with large splash panels and a tougher tone to the stories compared to veteran papers such as Victor or Tiger.
The lead strip in The Crunch No.1 was Arena, where a corrupt government in the 21st Century condemns anyone who speaks against them as criminals and sentences them to fight to death in an arena. (We're probably getting close to that now.) Written by Dave H. Taylor and drawn by Enrique Alcatena, Arena has recently been collected by Bear Alley Books which you can order here if you want a copy:
One of the most popular characters in The Crunch was The Mantracker, AKA Bounty Hunter 'Bearpaw Jay'.
Episode one was pretty violent for a DC Thomson comic, with an innocent bystander being shot in the guts by a bank robber...
Equally violent was the opening episode of The Walking Bombs which began with an impressive centrespread by Denis McLoughlin. One panel showed military leaders being incinerated by a nuclear explosion, followed by the murder of British government officials...
If the threat of the 'Walking Bombs' wasn't nerve-shattering enough, the next story revived the most evil man in history in Hitler Lives! Patrick Wright was the artist of this post-war tale of Hitler surviving WW2...
Could things get any more tense? How's about Who Killed Cassidy? - with the (fictional) American president Jack Cassidy being assassinated! A few pages later, the supposed killer is found hanged, and a conspiracy thriller begins!
I didn't pay The Crunch much attention back in 1979 as I was more into American comics by then. However, I recently bought a complete run of the comic cheaply (it only ran for 54 issues) and was very impressed. It's a great comic! (You can be sure I'll be featuring other issues at a later date.)