Sunday, February 01, 2015

Comic Oddities: MELVIN'S MONEY FUN (1981)

Some comics slip under the radar because they're not available in newsagents or the usual outlets. One such comic was Melvin's Money Fun No.1, published by the Department of National Savings, and intended to encourage children to set up an account. Apparently it was given away at promotional stands, events and suchlike. 

The 8 page glossy comic was edited by Denis Gifford and featured a fine selection of top comic artists. The cover strip, Chubby the Cub, was drawn by Chas Sinclair. One of his previous strips had been Basil Brush for TV Comic, and a few years after Money Fun he'd be drawing strips for Oink!

On page 3, Denis had commissioned the talents of veteran artist Wally Robertson to illustrate the return of classic 1950s character Sheerluck Jones...
Across the centre pages was a well illustrated adventure tale, Saved from the North Sea! drawn by Jim Baikie, perhaps best known for his artwork on Skizz for 2000AD...
Denis managed to fit in some of his own artwork too, contributing a half pager reviving his Koo Koo characters that had appeared in Whizzer and Chips in 1969...
It's curious that there were so many old characters turning up in Money Fun. In Kiss of Life Kitty, drawn by the brilliant Brian Walker, we saw the return of Laurie and Trailer, Alfie the Air Tramp and others from the pages of the original Chips. Even Weary Willie and Tired Tim cameo in the final panel...
The back page was a glorious finish to the comic by Basil Reynolds, proving that  he was a master of both realistic and cartoon styles. Again, more old characters are brought back, with the return of Skit, Skat and The Captain from the 1930s in a brand new strip...
All in all, a very nicely produced comic. The constant references to National Savings get old very fast but the appeal is in the novelty of the comic and its superb artwork. Denis sent the issue to the subscribers of his Association of Comics Enthusiasts (A.C.E.) newsletter, which is how I obtained a copy. In the accompanying newsletter, Denis explained the genesis of the project so I've reproduced that here for you to read. As with all images on this blog, click on it to enlarge...

UPDATE: Thanks for the reminder from John Wigmans that there was a second issue of Melvin's Money Fun published two years later in 1983! Peter Gray covered it on his blog several years ago...

9 comments:

TwoHeadedBoy said...

Interesting, I'll be looking for this one!

Love anything by Brian Walker, and Gifford's own stuff makes everything else look lifeless by comparison.

John Pitt said...

This one definitely slipped under MY radar! Always good to see a comic I didn't know about!

Lew Stringer said...

Subscribers to A.C.E. received near-mint condition copies but I don't know if the ones that kids had would be kept so nicely. It's quite a flimsy comic at only 8 pages so don't expect to find many immaculate editions.

John said...

Hi Lew,

Hate yo have to spoil the (money-)fun, but way back in 2009, Peter Gray had two posts on his wonderful blog about Money Fun 1 (1981) and 2 (1983).
-http://petergraycartoonsandcomics.blogspot.nl/2009/05/money-fun-comic-no1-september-1981.html
-http://petergraycartoonsandcomics.blogspot.nl/2009/05/money-fun-comic-no2-april-1983.html

Hope this helps.

John Wigmans

Lew Stringer said...

Thanks John. I'd forgotten I'd seen the second issue on Peter's blog. Also that he'd shown pages of no.1. Ah well, different audience and all that, plus I've shown Denis' background notes about the comic.

Arun Mansfield said...

Hi, I came across your blog when researching my grandfathers work, He's the Chas Sinclair cartoonist that you mentioned, he's in his 80s now but I will try and find out if he's still got some of his old strips if your interested, maybe I could scan them in for you. It's nice to know that some people still remember his work! Arun

Lew Stringer said...

Hi Arun,
A pleasure to hear from you. Thanks for getting in touch. Your grandfather's artwork is remembered with much affection by readers, myself included. I very much enjoyed his Basil Brush strips in TV Comic back in 1969, and it was an honour to write a script or two for him on Oink! in the late 1980s. (Bobby's Boots was one of the one-off strips we collaborated on I think. A spoof of Billy's Boots.) Please give him my best wishes next time you see him, and, yes, it'd be excellent to see scans of his original work if you have time. You can email me at
lew.stringer@BTinternet.com

Steve Marchant said...

Just so's folks knows... we've got the original art from the first Sheerluck Jones strip by Wally Robertson, from the single issue of Ray Regan Comics, on display at the Cartoon Museum. We've also got two (huge) I-Spy pages by Brian Walker - one's up at the moment but I'm gonna put both up together when we do a rehang in late spring. Ray Regan btw was Denis Gifford's attempt to launch a Dick Tracy-style character, drawn by a very young Ron Embleton.

Lew Stringer said...

I'm going to try and get down to the Cartoon Museum this year, Steve! Will let you know when.

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