Sunday, September 13, 2015

Comic oddities: FUN AND GAMES (1997)

In March 1997 a company called Nexus Media ventured into the traditional British humour comics market with a fortnightly called Fun and Games. It was a twist on the 'two-in-one' format originated by Whizzer and Chips in that Fun and Games were separate titles. In this instance, Fun was a 24 page A4 size comic and Games was a 24 page half-size A5 mag wrapped around the parent comic. (See photos). 


It may come as no surprise that the editor of Fun and Games was Bob Paynter, who had been the original editor of Whizzer and Chips (and the group editor of the IPC humour comics). The cover artist of Fun was Tom Paterson, a familiar name to readers of UK humour comics.

Another great UK comics stalwart was Terry Bave who provided the artwork for pages 2 and 3 of Fun, with a new strip, Big Baby across a spread announcing the prizes on offer. 

On the back page was a brand new Tom Paterson strip; The Invisible Family. Excellent stuff, unfortunately interrupted by a 'PRIZE CHANCE' blurb pasted into one panel. These were tenuous links to puzzles in the Games magazine.

The rest of Fun were reprints of old humour strips licensed from Fleetway. Again, marred by big PRIZE blurbs added to the pages. 

Some of the reprints were resized and redesigned to turn a single pager into a double pager, as with this Wear 'Em Out Wilf strip.
Some strips appear to be taken from annuals, and split across two weeks. For example this Frankie Stein story seems to end abruptly, with a tagline added telling the reader they'll have to wait until issue 2 for the outcome.  


As you may have noticed, for some reason the reprints had their original logos removed and replaced by bland typeset ones. It didn't exactly benefit a comic that already looked like it was done on the cheap. 

Overall, Fun and Games was an interesting experiment that perhaps could have succeeded on a higher budget with material designed for the purpose rather than reprints with 'PRIZE' blurbs added. I've no idea how long it lasted as I only bought issue 1, but I don't recall seeing it around for long. If anyone knows the number of issues it ran for, please let me know and I'll update this post. 

17 comments:

Peter Gray said...

nice to see another new Tom Paterson character!!

TwoHeadedBoy said...

I THINK I might have had this... The "Free Zoomers" thing is definitely ringing a tiny, tiny bell. The cover's great anyway - the whole thing looks good besides the dull font changes. I'll be looking out for it, certainly.

benpeter johnson said...

Ah, the age of the occasional free gift! What strange and wonderful thrills! The best from my childhood memories: highland toffee bars, the liquorish ones from the Beano. Glow in the dark Corky the Cat mask (Dandy), Poster magazines (2000ad), Dennis the Menace and Gnasher hand puppets (Beano) that were made of a horrible plastic bag material that fell apart but were regarded as godly. And the ultimate freebie, the Dennis the Menace 'snapper' that was a cardboard triangle that made a noise when you shook it. Nowadays the freebies are still amazing, my kids 'adventure time' gifts look like expensive toy shop items! But they are too regular. The publishers should selfishly eek them out like they used to. Scarcity and rarity raise the worthyness!

benpeter johnson said...

Any way! Publishers! Don't rerelease old material dressed up as new! Release a big, hardback, coffee table book every 25 years and let the dads get all weepy eyed and nostalgic! Theyll buy the books 'for the kids' and secretly read them themselves. Everyones happy! Apart from the children that is, who have moved on to hyper violent you tube animated shows made in the states, or viz.

Lew Stringer said...

The Beano only has occasional free gifts but most children's comics/mags come bagged with gifts every issue out of necessity unfortunately. It's what retailers want, and they have more power over publishers than they used to.

The Gnasher Snapper you mention was shown on my blog a few years ago. Here's the post:
http://lewstringer.blogspot.co.uk/2010/11/free-inside-part-1.html

Manic Man said...

slightly unrelated but on the 'free gifts' side.. I always felt it was a bit of a let down when the free gift was something like a pack of sweets or something generic like that. Even when it was a sticker album and stickers from something unrelated to the comic. A lot of it might have been junk, but when it was something connected to the comic in some way, it was much better. I still use a STC Sonic Head cheap plastic Keyring (I have one in much better condition that I don't use). Okay, generic plastic spinners with some related clip-art wasn't great but it was far better then generic mini-pack of sweets.

I can see why comics use plastic bags now. not only did the tape often wreck the comic cover (I mostly cut the tape to save the cover as much as possible) but it was probably pretty annoying for retailers when they had a stack of unsellable issues cause some git stole the gift from them so no-one wanted to buy one that was clearly missing the gift.. plastic bags.. somehow, do seam to limit the amount that is happening.. doesn't stop it, but limits it. Through it does mean the cover is more important as a selling piece.. When someone saw the cover, was interested enough to flip a few pages before buying (I'm well aware some probably read it in the shop and didn't buy) the cover was important, but people could see more pages before buying. in a plastic bag, they only have the cover to go on.. but then, covers are mostly single images with a lot of blurbs saying "Inside!", "Win Prizes!" etc. I kind of miss the old comics having a strip on the front cover. Kinda gave you more of a taste of the insides.

This cover and design is slightly familiar, getting back onto topic, but I might have gotten confused with simpler things.. which reminds me.. I wonder if Puzzle kids is still as good a comic/puzzle mag as it used to be.. that used to also use the old two-in-one format before Streetwise the mouse spun out.. I used to enjoy that but at the time it was pretty pricey for me so I never got many issues. don't hear amount about it though..

Lew Stringer said...

Yes, preventing theft was one reason to bag the gifts, but also because mags compete with each other by including more gifts and bigger gifts. The end result is unfortunately a mass of bulky plastic bags on the shelves with few titles actually standing out. I do wonder how far things will go, and if eventually shops will just 'display' them in a bin for kids to rummage through and pick their favourite toy-with-comic.

I'm afraid I never look at the puzzle mags so I don't know if Puzzle Kids is still around. Was that the one that looked like it used European artwork?

Manic Man said...

The art did seam very Belgiumly yes..

Ah, to show how long it has been.. I got the wrong name ^_^ Quiz Kids.. erm.. I really hate to do this but.. erm.. wiki... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quiz_Kids_(magazine)

limited information, but still going and is now the Longest running.. there was a fair amount of Comic like content with it really, as each issue had a plot and sometimes even panels ^_^ being wiki (evil), it doesn't even have anyone comment on the Streetwise mini-comic it had.. atleast for a period, or the streetwise spin-off.. I wonder where I put that issue #1.. someplace..

Lew Stringer said...

Well that'd explain why I hadn't seen one called Puzzle Kids then. :)

Wiki can be notoriously unreliable so I rarely look at it really.

Manic Man said...

yep. I don't like it. while some of the basics like maths, physics etc is.. good enough, the main fact of 'anyone can edit it' means too much rubbish and false information. it was just the first and quickest search for a couple of images ^_^

benpeter johnson said...

I sort of miss the idea of having a strip on the cover. But then again, it does depend on the cover! Think of Heavy Metal (hurlant) or 2000ad in the 80's. Now there were some covers. Eagle annuals and Scream! Plus of course the american comics. Where would we be without that lurid, pinball esque artform? Anyway, Lew can you remember a comic, oh mid to late 80's I think that ran for a short time that came with a bag of sweets? The first couple of issues were small A5ish sized. I don't remember much about it. I think it ran an alien fugitive story a bit like e.t. or Skizz. Praps I should ask Phil Boyce...

TwoHeadedBoy said...

Quiz Kids had a strange character for a while, something like a walking circle made out of pink slime. Only a vague memory, but a memory nonetheless.

Lew Stringer said...

Was the puzzle to guess what the heck it was? :-)

Benpeter, the comic you're thinking of is Nipper. All humour content. Started out as A5, got either lost or nicked due to its small size, retailers complained, and it quickly changed to A4 with issue 6 or so. A real disaster. Merged into Buster after just 16 issues.

Manic Man said...

The character TwoHeadedBoy comments on was in the middle 'pull out' and worked with streetwise.. I really need to check through a couple of boxes to try and find what issues I got..

benpeter johnson said...

Nipper! I just google imaged 'nipper comic magazine ipc' and saw some grainy pictures of the covers, the alien thing was called 'kelpie' apparently, starting to regret bringing it up actualy.

Lew Stringer said...

No worries. Some people have fond memories of it and it did feature some great contributors. I just remember hearing what a failure it was for IPC. A shame, but that small format doomed it from the start. There was a hardback annual though (full size) that's worth looking out for.

Manic Man said...

still off topic.. But if I can figure out where I put it, another british comic not really noted because of.. probably cause it wasn't the easiest thing in the world to get which I have.. St Tiggywinkles Animal Hospital which was mostly about Hedgehogs are first (there Mascot Tiggy is a Hedgehog) did a comic.. has to be in the 90s. Don't know how long it lasted, and I know it wasn't just a 'buy at there centre only' cause I've never been there, but it think it was a limited distribution. I only got issue 1.. I'll have to look for that too.. sometimes comics like that are underrated (like I have a couple of the Granada restaurants Beano comics, and a bunch of copies of issue 2 of the Beano comic done last year for Harvester I think it was.. (cousin worked there so could pick me up a few copies but sadly, were only the same issue)..

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