Saturday, May 14, 2016

POW! No.1 (1967)

I've blogged about the first issue of Pow! before, years ago, but I didn't show too many pages from it. As some people said it was a favourite comic of theirs I thought I'd look at it in more depth. 

With its first issue published on Saturday 14th January 1967 Pow! was the third title of what had become known as the 'Power Comics' imprint published by Odhams Press Ltd. It followed Wham! (1964) and Smash! (1966). Comprising 28 pages, Pow! contained a mixture of Marvel reprint and originated UK humour and adventure strips. Here's a selection of pages from issue one...

Interestingly, the reprints of Spider-Man began with strips from Amazing Spider-Man No.1 and not his full origin from Amazing Fantasy. Story: Stan Lee, Art: Steve Ditko. 

The Dolls of St.Dominics was a traditional British school humour strip in the vein of The Beano's Bash Street Kids featuring anarchic schoolkids. In this case, set in a girls school. Superb artwork by Ron Spencer imitating Leo Baxendale (who never worked for Pow!) but Ron was clearly an accomplished humourist in his own right.


The Python was an adventure serial that ran in the early issues of Pow! Compared to comics published by Fleetway and D.C. Thomson, the adventure strips in Odhams comics could sometimes have a rough and ready feel about them, as this does, but that energy added to their appeal I think. 


Full page ad for the next issue...

News page introducing Pow! This regular news feature ran in all the 'Power Comics'. 

The Group, with art by Mike Brown. Similar in many ways to The Beezer's Banana Bunch but with its own vitality.



Jack Magic, another strip that only ran in the early issues (so probably wasn't too popular with the readers). 

The second Marvel series in the issue was Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD, reprinting the first episode from Strange Tales. Story: Stan Lee. Art: Jack Kirby.

Every Power Comic had a spy spoof and Pow's was Wee Willie Haggis, The Spy from Skye. Not a very remarkable character. Mike Higgs' The Cloak, which started in Pow! No.18, would prove to be a more popular parody of the spy genre. 

On the back page was one of the highlights of the comic; Dare-A-Day Davy by the fantastic Ken Reid. 

Like most British comics, Pow's contents shifted and changed a bit as the weeks passed. I felt it was constantly improving but sadly it only lasted for 86 issues, absorbing Wham! along the way and merging into Smash! in late 1968.  Nevertheless it remains a favourite of many of us who grew up on comics of that period. As the strapline on the first cover said, it was "The brand new comic for the new breed of comic fans". That was the thing about the Power Comics; they felt modern and young, and of the moment, unlike some of the the slicker, sometimes stuffier, rival comics from Fleetway and Thomsons. 

The free cardboard gun and ammo.

13 comments:

David Leach said...

As always, a great article, Lew. I loved Pow, Smash and Wham! and I'm lucky enough to own all seven pages of the Marksman strip from the 1971 Pow annual. For some unknown reason the art was drawn in blue with a blue wash but printed in red.

Lew Stringer said...

Wow! I heard so little art from those Power Comics escaped the furnace so you are lucky to have that. Perhaps it was intended for blue but they chose red at the last minute to keep the costs down rather than having some pages red, some blue. (The strips in the book are either full colour or red, but they did use blue the year after.)

John Parker said...

Thank you so much for this post, Lew. I don't remember an awful lot about this comic but it warmed the cockles of me heart. The Group? Zero memories! But Dare-a-Day Davy kind of stuck in my memory and is a gem and it is sooo British. After this, the issue that sticks most in my memory is #7 and that great Ditko Spidey v. Sandman cover.

The first comics I remember reading were a bunch of issues of TV21 left in the holiday cabin that my parents rented in Gronant, Wales in the summer of 1965.All pre-Thunderbirds by all accounts (Wiki)but thoroughly mesmerising until my parents kicked my brother and I out of the house to go and enjoy summer!

Thanks again! Your blog is one of the best and this particular post is truly appreciated.

Lew Stringer said...

Thanks John. There are lots of posts about TV21 on this blog. If you haven't seen them, just type TV21 into the search bar of the blog and you'll find them. Same applies for any comic or strip. If it's on the blog you'll find it.

Paul McScotty- Muir said...

I must reiterate what others have said thanks for showing this and a really nice article Lew . Its great to see some of the stories in issue 1 again after so long and more detail on the free gun which I seem to recall with almost total clarity after all these years. "Dare a day Davy" always stood out in my memory (like almost everything Ken Reid did) as did Steve Ditko's art (new to me then as a 6 year old) which as a kid I found a bit dark and moody (like Ken Reids art) so in my minds eye Pow always had a "Gothic" feel to it as these artists work just fascinated me as a kid especially Ken Reids work. I always thought the "Dolls" logo was Baxenadles work. I really liked Ron Spencers work in the Dandy so it is good to know he also drew this (one of my favourite POW strips).

paddykool said...

Lovely stuff , Lew .As you said , you've dealt with Pow in the past but it is always welcome to remember it . I bound a bunch of the old issues together for safe -keeping between hard covers. The paper was of a poor quality , much like those older Marvels themselves. They were very much the punks of the comic world, as Marvel were too , back then. ...Made even earthier without a glossy cover a la the American comics....Very pulpy but as vibrant as all get go! They fairly shouted off the comic counters. I well remember the free gifts too and my fiteen year old self ironed on that Spidey transfer to a white T shirt. Comic hero T- shirts were something you only saw in the American Marvels back then. They were unheard of at this side of the pond. The transfer itself was a wee bit disappointing in that there was more of an outline of Spider-man in red , I think, rather than the full colour blue and red that I expected. I don't remember using the cardboard gun but I imagine that if it was like all the other giveaways , it only lasted a short time before falling apart.I do remember having fun with a little Batman spinning figure that you could hide inside a book ..for it to leap out assisted by a wound up elastic band. I think it may have been in Smash or more likely Wham ..if memory serves.

Lew Stringer said...

Paddykool, the gifts you mention have been shown on my blog. The Spider-Man transfer was blue and red:

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-MQjsHZA9t_w/TlU6SCW6eBI/AAAAAAAAIIY/dUrVwXtn2Xs/s1600/pow2.jpg


The other one you mention was the WHAM-PIRE BAT and was given away with Wham! No.15:

http://lewstringer.blogspot.co.uk/2009/09/45-year-flashback-wham-no15.html

paddykool said...

Yes Lew ...but the tranfer of Spider-man was actually more like a blue and red outline ...ie not filled in with full body-colour so it appearred as a rather wispy affair than what we might have expected.

Lew Stringer said...

I see what you mean but it didn't bother me personally. Wearing that transfer led to me meeting a new pal who introduced me to the world of American comics (I didn't know the Pow! Spidey strips were reprints until then) starting me on collecting comics, discovering fandom etc. So the results were worth it. :)

A more solid Spider-Man transfer appeared as a free gift in Mighty World of Marvel No.2 in 1972, although by that time I was too old to wear T-shirt transfers.

John Pitt said...

And my thanks too for this post. I suspected that you might have done a piece next year for its fiftieth anniversary, but perhaps you could do one for Fantastic instead?

Lew Stringer said...

I've already covered Fantastic, John, in 2007 for its 40th anniversary. Look in the archives on the right hand side of this blog for Februsry 2007.

Remember folks, if you're interested in a comic and you're not sure if I've covered it, use the search window to type in a keyword (such as the title of a comic or story) and you should find it if it's there.

Mike Robson said...

I was a "Pow" reader from the first issue. I think you have it in saying the Odhams Power comics seemed to capture the spirit of the 1960s, probably more so than any from rival publishers. They did have a particular magic about them.

In copying the Americans by having the editors write (in a sort of frantic,slangy, mid Atlantic, style) to the readership in the comic, they also broke new ground. I can remember Ken Reid in one of his strips (possibly "Dare a day Davy" in "Pow") drawing manic caricatures of editors Alf, Cos,and Bart. I can recall being fascinated when they actually put in a real photo of Alf Wallace, who I thought looked rather suave and handsome. And what kind of place was this "64, Long Acre" from where all this wonderful stuff was emanating - London streets didn't mean much to kids up in distant Newcastle.

The non American serious strips were usually very well done, and would have had an appeal quite beyond the age group of the c.8/13 year olds who bought the comics - or who had them bought for them; "Rubberman", "The Legend Testers", "The Python" "Experiment X" (with the chilling anti hero Dr Morg),"The 2 faces of Janus" etc. There were some pretty terrifying villains they invented for these heroes to face - the evil dwarf men in "The legend Testers", The Rainmaker in "Rubberman", the monstrous plant like growth devouring the world in "The Python", and so on. I think we had our imaginations stretched by exposure to this sort of stuff!

Not being particularly interested in sport, I liked the fact that Power comics, as far as I can remember, had no football etc series, which rival comics invariably did; when IPC replaced Odhams that was over, sport stories were brought in to "Smash" - the only surviving title. It was a radically different comic, not bad by any means, there was fine material in there such as "Cursitor Doom" and "Janus Stark"... but it was now much more like one of the British "old school" comics in many ways, not "hep" like the previous Power stable had been - even then I realised that the great days were over!


Lew Stringer said...

I completely agree, Mike, and I know a few others who share that view too. The Odhams comics were a bit rough and ready but they felt so modern for the times with all their pop-culture references. I followed the new-look Smash! on and off but it felt so ordinary compared to what had gone before.

You'll find plenty of posts about the 'Power Comics' on my blog from over the years. I hope you enjoy them.

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