Wednesday, June 15, 2016

KNOCKOUT in 1960

The original Knockout weekly endured quite a few changes over its long run (1939 to 1963). I've shown some earlier issues here before so now here are a few pages from the issue dated 3rd September 1960. By this time Fleetway had taken over the comics line from The Amalgamated Press and had restyled Knockout to look more like their other adventure comics Lion and Tiger. Indeed, Fleetway's comics now carried a unifying brand, 'A Five Star Weekly', in the same way that Odhams would brand their line as 'Power Comics' six years later. 

The cover artwork is by two of Fleetway's finest. Eric Parker drew the Battler Britton vignette and the illustration for Famous Combat Forces, while Bill Lacey handled the main illustration. Bill Lacey even signed his work here; one of the few Fleetway artists to do so.

Inside, the issue kicked off with a complete Battler Britton story. I'm not sure who the artist is here. (As always, click on images to see them full size.)

Knockout at this point contained a good variety of adventure strips, adventure text stories, and humour strips. One of the latter was Blarney Bluffer, drawn by Angel Nadal. It was later reprinted and retitled Gabby McGlew in Valiant

Westerns were still popular in 1960 and Knockout had Pony Express, drawn by Bill Lacey. Most comics of the time had little or no colour interiors and what's notable about comic artists back then is how superbly they mastered the techniques for black and white illustration. Bill Lacey being a prime example, with clear storytelling and no clutter.

The prose stories also featured exceptional artwork. This one is from The Nightriders, a Dick Turpin adventure. Art by Ronald Simmons.

Plenty going on with this page featuring two funnies. I think Professsor Knockout is by Nadal, but I don't know who drew Our Vera the Interferer.

The adverts in comics are a good reflection of the times. Back then, kids were encouraged to "Look for the Golly" (a paper figure that had been inserted behind the label on the jamjar) and if they collected ten they could send away for a metal brooch. These were very popular in the sixties, although I must admit they never appealed to me. Long gone now of course, and just an embarrassing footnote in history. 

The Mad Emperor was a serial that ran for just nine episodes in 1960. The artwork, by Robert Forrest, was absolutely incredible. (You can find out more about the artist here: )

Billy Bunter was of course a mainstay of Knockout throughout its run, and even continued into Valiant for many years when the two comics merged. This busy full pager is by Albert Pease. (Bunter would soon become the cover star of the comic as it was re-branded Billy Bunter's Knockout. I'll show an issue of that soon!)

This issue also featured an advert for the Knockout Annual. A snip at 8/6d (42 and a half pence) but relatively expensive in 1960.

Further reading:


Manic Man said...

Battler Britton.. mm.. lets see.. created by Geoff Campion in 55.. the later stories, after Knockout were done by different artists.. Fleetway did seam to get alot of there Adventure artists to do the same style but i think he was working for Fleetway at the time so.. it's possible it's still him..

Lew Stringer said...

It's not Campion's style but thanks for the input.

Manic Man said...

ah, fair enough ^_^ i wasn't sure since i'm not up on his work.. i'm better at the funnies ^_^

ray moore said...

It looks like Colin Merritt, Lew.

Lew Stringer said...

Thanks, Ray. I don't think I'm familiar with his work.

Paul McScotty- Muir said...

I picked up a couple of "Knockout's" a few years ago and its a great comic and always lookout for copies when I am at comic shops etc - I'm a big fan of the humour / adventure mix and still miss that but times and tastes change. So many great comics I missed (was a bit too young for Knockouts first entry into comics) so thanks again for showing this - I really liked the Mad Emperor strip lovely art and anything by Angel Nadal is always a big plus for me.

Lew Stringer said...

Yes, there's always something worth finding in those old anthology comics.

These days The Phoenix has an adventure/humour mix to an extent although it does seem to be pitched at a younger reader than comics of 60 years ago.

Paul McScotty- Muir said...

I've picked up a few copies of Phoenix as its now in W H Smiths it is certainly a lovely comic for younger kids and great printing - hopefully it will be a success and spawn more comics in that style.

Lew Stringer said...

Hard to say. It's so difficult and expensive getting non-licensed comics into Smiths. I still think the future lies in albums and graphic novels. At least that's where the expansion is at the moment in the British comic industry.

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