Saturday, April 11, 2015

Valiant and Smash! Summer Special 1971

Although not as slick or colourful as DC Thomson's Summer Specials, the rival products by IPC in the early 1970s were great value for money. Here's the evidence in the form of the Valiant and Smash! Summer Special published in 1971; 96 pages packed with strips old and new, with a striking cover by the great Mike Western. Let's look at a selection of pages...

Inside, there were extra-length stories of favourites from the weekly, such as a six page strip of His Sporting Lordship. Douglas Maxted was the artist on the weekly strip but specials often used replacement artists and in this case Jack Pamby turned in an excellent job... 

Similarly, on The Ghostly Guardian, regular artist Julio Schiaffino was replaced by Bill Lacey (father of humour artist Mike Lacey)...

One original artist who did draw the Summer Special version of his strip was Ken Reid, producing a nice two page Banger and Masher...


For budgetary reasons the IPC specials contained a lot of reprint, but readers didn't mind if we hadn't seen the stories before. A 1960s Karl the Viking serial from Lion was edited and recycled as a 16 page Erik the Viking epic. Artwork by Don Lawrence...

The specials also stretched out the budget by including features and prose stories. Here's the first page of a one-off story entitled The Radar Men, illustrated by Eric Bradbury...

A new Raven of the Wing six pager was included. I'm not sure of the specific artist but it looks like it may be by the Solano Lopez studio but possibly not by Lopez himself. (The kids in the bottom left hand corner don't look like his style.)

Only 8 of the 96 pages were in colour, two of which were given to The Swots and the Blots. Although the header (taken from the weekly) was by Leo Baxendale the strip itself in this instance was drawn by Les Barton...



The Special concluded with a nice lengthy 18 page Kelly's Eye strip by Solano Lopez. This was a revised reprint from a serial that had run in the weekly in 1964/65.

This edition and numerous other IPC specials provided hours of entertainment in the school holiday periods back then. Over the years the page count reduced from 96 to 80 then to 64... and even down to 48 in some cases, with the cover prices getting higher. That initial period of 96 page Specials certainly provided the best value for money. Happy times!

15 comments:

Hibernia Comics said...

I have picked up a few of these over the years, and they are as you say packed! Nice to put a few more names to artists unknown
The Raven strip does look like Lopez, but you are right on the kids, maybe he had someone else from the studio doing the backgrounds?

Lew Stringer said...

It's quite likely I think, as he was very busy and the page rate on specials was a bit lower than on the weeklies.

paddykool said...

That one looks great Lew. Lovely artwork throughout.Was this a square-back? I have a Valiant Summer Special somewhere..from the mid 1960's and it is in that kind of format with heavy card covers..a very nice production.Most of the Specials were larger with glossy paper.

Lew Stringer said...

These IPC specials were all staped, Paddykool, not square back. That must have been a one-off in the sixties.

The IPC specials were about the same size of the weeklies but on better paper, albeit not glossy stock like the DC Thomson ones. (Although a few IPC ones were glossy such as the first Knockout one, and that had less pages as I recall.)

Mel said...

Great to see this again Lew. Do you have the 1970 Valiant summer special in your collection? (I remember having it during a summer holiday but can't recall if I was in Skegness or Great Yarmouth). I always look for this issue at the comic fairs but it's never turned up. If you know what was in it could you possibly list the contents or maybe feature it on your blog?

Lew Stringer said...

I'd be happy to if I could but I'm afraid I never had the 1970 edition, Mel. I didn't have many issues of the Valiant specials as I was more into Lion at the time. Sorry mate.

John Pitt said...

This is one heckuva Summer Special! It may not have the glossy grey washes of the DC Th specials,but @ 96 pages, it's packed full of strips I would have loved. to read. I'd love to read it NOW!

Lew Stringer said...

Yep, and the other IPC specials at that time were all in the same chunky format. Plenty of reading material for the school holidays.

paddykool said...

Lew ..the one i'm thinking of is the Valiant Special for 1966..You can see it here...http://www.comicsuk.co.uk/specials.php?ComicTitleID=212

Lew Stringer said...

Interesting. I didn't know that one was squarebound. It probably proved too expensive to stick with that format.

Curiously the modern day Beano and Dandy summer specials are squarebound now.

Paul McScotty -Muir said...

THese were always good value for money but I never picked up the holiday specials that often due to picking up a particularly bad (to my eyes at the time at least) "Lion" summer special in the 70s and due to the fact the main weekly artists rarely did the art in te specials but this looks great (and I bet the others did as well , we were just so spoilt for choice re comocs back then) Love the cover here and nice to see a Ken Reid original strip as well - thanks for sharing.

Lew Stringer said...

I have several of the Lion specials but haven't looked through them for years. I must admit I used to buy them out of habit despite the content. I preferred the DC Thomson ones though as they had more time and effort spent on them.

Manic Man said...

not bad work in the annual but for some reason, while the artwork was good and all, I never really took to the Swots and the Blots.. not sure why.. they are nice enough strips..

Lew Stringer said...

Each to their own, Manic, and it may depend on which ones you grew up with but perhaps you didn't see some of the better Swots and Blots strips? This fill-in isn't great admittedly but Leo Baxendale's strips in Smash! from 1969 to 1971 (and in Valiant after that for a few years) were excellent.

Manic Man said...

Possible ^_^
with any comic strip, there are good ones and bad ones, and it could be just my luck that I've mostly seen weaker ones. shouldn't be a problem to fix though.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...