Wednesday, May 20, 2015

SCORE 'n' ROAR No.1 (1970)

With their first new boys' adventure comic Scorcher having been established for several months, IPC launched another football weekly on Saturday 12th September 1970. Score 'n' Roar used the same gimmick that IPC's Whizzer and Chips had pioneered a year earlier; two 'rival' comics in one. 16 page Roar was inside 16 page Score and could be separated by opening up the staples.

Kicking off the new comic the first strip was Jack of United, superbly drawn by Barrie Mitchell. A fairly standard football strip about two rival brothers but the interesting thing was that the plot concerning Jack's brother Jimmy continued into his own strip, Jimmy of City, in Roar.

Unlike Scorcher's newsprint format, Score 'n' Roar had the benefit of expensive photogravure printing. This enabled an excellent reproduction of photographs and the comic took full advantage of this by including several feature pages. Score had its opinion page written by 'The Captain'. I'm presuming the chap in the photo may be the comic's editor Dave Hunt. Can anyone confirm or deny this?
Cannonball Craig was somewhat like Scorcher's Billy's Boots in that its star was a youngster who was useless at football until aided by artificial means. In Billy's case it was his magic boots, and in Craig's case it was... wait for it... nuclear irradiated bubble-and-squeak! The artwork on this first chapter is by Mike Western, but Mike White drew later episodes.

Here's how Roar was bound into the centre of Score...
Roar's first strip was the aforementioned Jimmy of City by Barrie Mitchell, continued from Jack of United in Score...
Roar had its own opinion page headed by 'The Inside Man'. I'm pretty sure that the photo is of Bob Paynter, group editor of IPC's humour comics. He was a bit greyer when I knew him but that was 14 years later. I doubt Bob actually wrote the column but comics often used photos of staff members in this way. 
The great Tom Kerr was on board, illustrating the two page Peter the Cat strip. The name was inspired by real-life goalkeeper Peter Bonetti who was nicknamed 'The Cat', but the strip is not about him. 
The centre pages featured Mark Your Man, an Agatha Christie style mystery involving a process of elimination of the suspects. Art on episode one by Geoff Campion, but John Catchpole drew later episodes...
A supernatural three-pager next, with Phantom of the Forest about a ghost footballer. Art by Eric Bradbury, but Jesus Blasco drew later episodes. (I'm guessing that so many of the strips soon lost their original artists because the first episodes would have been produced many months earlier for the dummy issue and perhaps they couldn't fit the extra workload in regularly.)


The Mudlarks next, with art by Ted Kearon.
Back to the second half of Score for the next strip, and the one that was destined to become the most popular and enduring. Here's the very first episode of Nipper, illustrated by the Solano Lopez studio giving it a bleak, grimy look befitting the setting of the fictional industrial town it was set in. Nipper was actually written more like a story from a girls' comic, with an aspect of pathos and the underdog's struggle against his situation. He even had a cruel guardian. Clearly this touched a chord with readers and the strip survived for many years, transferring to Scorcher, and later Tiger, when the comics merged. I don't know who the writer was on these early Nipper strips but Nat Munger is a great name for a bad guy!  


After the grim despair of Nipper, the comic lightened things up for its last strip with Lord Rumsey's Rovers, a comedy drama drawn by Douglas Maxted (although another artist soon took over in subsequent weeks).
Overall, I felt that Score 'n' Roar was a better comic than Scorcher. Its stories seemed stronger and the better paper enabled good photo features. It soon added a humour strip, Trouble Shooter by Graham Allen, and you can see an example of that on a post I did seven years ago (click here). Sadly the comic didn't survive for long. Its paper quality declined and merged with itself in 1971, dropping the Roar part of the title, and then Score merged into Scorcher with the issue dated 3rd July 1971. 

9 comments:

Manic Man said...

http://charleyswar.sevenpennynightmare.co.uk/?page_id=77

photo of David Hunt when editing 'Battle' so.. erm.. no clue ^_^;

Staz Johnson said...

Nice article Lew. The Barrie Mitchell artwork is especially outstanding. I don't even care if I sound like an old fart when I say it's a shame British comics don't look like this anymore.

Lew Stringer said...

Barrie's work is great isn't it? I met him once when we were guests at the Norwegian con.

John Pitt said...

Great post, Lew. Love the Lopez art on Nipper. Now I need to find some examples of Jesus Blasco's work on Phantom Of The Forest!

Lew Stringer said...

Click on the link I provided towards the end of the post, John. You'll see a page of Blasco's Phantom there.

Hibernia Comics said...

Great stuff, I have only one issue, and 'roar' is still in the title and that from may '71, but the dual comic format comic has been dropped.
Lopez can draw a bit! I was never a big fan of soccer(I know, I know, Football!) but Nipper is there with Adam Eterno and The Steel Claw and Raven on the Wing as stories I just know from reading so many reprints in Annuals and Holiday specials. Soap Opera as you say, but very entertaining!

Lew Stringer said...

Lopez was great. I think he had assistance from his studio on Nipper though, - on this first chapter at least. Some bits look a little rougher than his style.

Paul McScotty -Muir said...

Great to see this issue again as I had long forgotten about issue 1 of "Score n Roar" having only purchased a handful off issues. The league ladders were great and I used to update mine every week for all the English and Scottish leagues. I missed out on some top artists here, Western, Kerr, Barrie , Bradbury, Lopez etc all in one comic, major league stuff. Talking of "greats" I wasn't aware that Jesus Blasco drew any football strip so it was good to see this on your link to the "Phantom of the Forest" strip . Nipper was an amazing strip I started reading it regularly in Scorcher, great stuff again Lew,

Lew Stringer said...

Unfortunately Mike Western, Geoff Campion and Eric Bradbury only contributed to the first or early issues but I feel it still had a stronger line up of artists than Scorcher on the whole at that time.

I used to update the League Ladders every Sunday too, back when I was trying to fit in with my peers and show interest in football. It didn't last long, although my interest in the novelty of League Ladders would be revived again for a few weeks the following seasons.

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