Thursday, September 24, 2015

POW! and WHAM! - First merged issue (1968)

The merging of Pow! and Wham! in January 1968 was a clear indication that all was not well with the Odhams line of 'Power Comics'. Other mergers would follow and by the end of the year only Smash! would remain out of the five titles. A sad state of affairs for a much-loved line of comics but they continued to deliver the goods right up until the end.

The merged Pow! and Wham! actually resulted in a fairly strong line-up. Here are examples from the 32 pages of that first issue (No.53, retaining Pow's numbering)...

Pages two and three served as a great introduction to the strips, bringing new readers up to speed...

Reprints of Spider-Man had proved to be Pow's most popular strip so naturally that continued in the merger. Stan Lee and Steve Ditko at their finest...
Georgie's Germs was one of the handful of strips to survive from Wham! and fitted into Pow! perfectly. Art by Cyril Price...
After Spider-Man the second most popular strip in Pow! was Mike Higgs' The Cloak. A fantastic humour-adventure spy/fantasy serial in Mike's distinctive style. I've never met any fan of Pow! who didn't like the strip, and it's easy to see why from this excellent spread. Anything could happen in The Cloak strip!

Horror/sci-fi serial Experiment X featured in the centre pages. That logo is one of my favourites. Very eerie.

Pow! often reprinted some of the complete five page sci-fi strips from Marvel's early sixties Tales of Suspense, Strange Tales and the like, resized into two page stories. This issue gave us The Little Green Man by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko...

The ad for the next issue promoted the free stickers. Remember those? 

Sammy Shrink by Terry Bave was another survivor from Wham! Although perhaps one of the more conservative strips in 'Power Comics' Sammy Shrink proved very popular and was even revived for a much longer run years later in the IPC funnies. 

This first merge issue also saw the start of a brand new adventure thriller; The Two Faces of Janus. A gripping but somewhat daft tale about a man wrongly accused of a crime just because he looks evil due to a curse. Francisco Fuentes was the artist of the strip but I'm not sure he drew this opening episode as it appears to be signed "Ayhau". 




The Tiddlers and The Dolls was an unusual merging of two strips into one! The Tiddlers from Wham! joined Pow's The Dolls of St. Dominics for a weekly battle of the sexes. Art by Mike Lacey... 



Reprints of The Fantastic Four also came over from Wham! into the merged comic. Script by Stan Lee, art by Jack Kirby. (For some reason, Odhams deleted the credits on the Marvel reprints. Probably because it wasn't a tradition in British comics to run credit boxes at the time.)

On the back page, the brilliant Dare-A-Day Davy, another Pow! favourite, by the fantastic Ken Reid...


So there you have it. A good comic full of variety, and a favourite of many in the sixties. Evidently not too many though, as it only lasted another 36 weeks or so before merging into Smash! but while it was around it was a memorable comic!



15 comments:

Anonymous said...

That's a truly terrible cover, just cut out heads stuck down. But what a fantastic comic. Two Faces of Janus reminded me of Dark Man. Great idea, but terrible execution.
Great stuff, Lew.

Davidleach2000

Lew Stringer said...

Yes, and most of those heads aren't even taken from the strips; just bad redrawings instead. Those comics had some very sloppy layouts, probably due to the workload of the same staff handling five weekly comics, but somehow that added to the rough and ready charm of them I think. And the strips themselves had a raw energy too of course. I much preferred them to the slicker, more formularised IPC weeklies that followed.

NP said...

Odhams' Power Comics 1967/8 approach to layout was very haphazard until they got a good layout artist (can't remember her name now). But the 'badly drawn' and 'pasted down' approach a big part of the 'even I could do that' appeal that really kickstarted my interest in making my own comics.

paddykool said...

Yes Lew...Back then , I'm not sure we were so fine-tuned about the artwork or even the quality of the paper .We vaguely compared the art styles but really it was all about the stories. The power comics were my favourites as I've said before .Let's face it they began as a sort of even more anarchic Beano and went on to integrate the lost Marvel universe into the mix .Everything else was secondary. People have a tendency to forget that Marvel comics were so rare and hard to find. They also forget that a lot of readers didn't really "get" Marvel at first . They were a bit of a shabby little cult compared to the glossier DC 's Superman and the like. By the time the power comics were fading, marvel's first real flush was coming to an end .They'd gotten themselves a slicker printer ...Ditko was preparing to jump ship, leaving Spider-man to the romance comics look of Johnny Romita. It was all also competing with girls and music in my life.You'd imagine that a comic line stuffed with so much vigour would have been better supported, but maybe television had already begun to steal huge lumps of the potential audience already, bringing sales downwards , bigtime.

Lew Stringer said...

I think the distribution of Marvel Comics depended on your location to a large extent. Here in the Midlands they were very well distributed in the 1960s and it was possible to follow a monthly title. There would be older issues mixed in with the new ones though. Some of the first Marvels I bought in 1967 were brand new 1965 issues. Distribution also seemed very good at seaside resorts. I was very much a Marvelite in the sixties.

You're right, Nigel. That almost-fanzine look to the covers and editorial pages was inspirational. I was already drawing by then but it was Pow! No.1 that inspired me to design my own comic. (A rough 4 page effort.)

Norman Boyd said...

I don't remember seeing this issue cover at all. But strangely both the free gifts here and the one you show for the next issue are VERY familiar. Strange how memories morph over time. Those Lee/Ditko stories certainly got me hooked on Alan Class/L. Miller comics at the time. Thanks again for a great post Lew

Lew Stringer said...

The cover is quite forgettable I guess. :) You can see more Pow covers here:

http://lewstringer.blogspot.co.uk/2007/01/end-of-pow.html

Colin Jones said...

Probably the biggest revelation for me since I started using the internet is that Marvel characters appeared regularly in the UK before Mighty World Of Marvel #1 - I was born in 1966 and I'd always assumed that MWOM was the debut of Marvel characters in Britain.

Lew Stringer said...

Yep, Marvel strips have been reprinted in the U.K. since the early 1950s. Issues of The Human Torch and Captain America published by Len Miller in the fifties are very collectable today.

Manic Man said...

never understood Doctor Morg's mask.. it just covers his nose.. for some reason, I can buy that coving your eyes is a good disguise (seams to work in real life a few times too), but your nose?...

Mel said...

Love your posts about the Power comics Lew. Trouble is I want to know what happens in the next episode of the Cloak now!

Mel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lew Stringer said...

All will be revealed when Mike gets around to doing his Cloak collection, Mel! :)

Manic, I can't remember if it's a mask or something to hide disfigurement. I'll have to check. If it's a mask, yeah, pretty ineffective!

Anonymous said...

Lew, do you know who are the creators of "Experiment X"? And which magazine was it a reprint from?

Panagiotis...

Lew Stringer said...

Experiment X was drawn by Eduaro Feito. As far as I know it was created for Pow! and wasn't a reprint.

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