Saturday, July 02, 2016

The WIZARD No.1 (1970)

The original run of D.C. Thomson's The Wizard (as a prose story paper) was from 1922 to 1963, before merging into Rover. Seven years later, Thomson revived the title as a comic (or "picture story paper" as they preferred) on 7th February 1970. Here's a few pages from that first issue...

The cover was quite simplistic but it certainly grabbed the attention. Inside, the first story was a sci-fi serial Soldiers of the Jet Age, set in the then-futuristic world of 1990! It was drawn by Martin Asbury fresh off his stint on TV21. Even back in 1970 I remember thinking how old fashioned this strip felt for a SF story. The 'Jet Age' sounded very dated to kids who had watched man step on the Moon a year earlier.


The next strip was Scrappy, A Boy All Alone. A waif and stray pursued by the Welfare Officer. Publishers D.C. Thomson did this sort of strip really well and the art by George Ramsbottom captured the right atmosphere. Here's page one of the three page story.

The sole comedy strip in issue one was Trooper Bo-Peep - He's After a Sheep. It's ok, - his intentions were honourable. A ram accidentally has a satchel of important plans hooked to its horns and the soldier tries to retrieve them every week. Not the best strip to have appeared in a comic, but good art by Geoff Jones.
Like Whizzer and Chips, The Wizard had a middle section; The Wizard Football Special. However it ran over 13 pages so couldn't be removed without missing a page. The section featured several football stories including Cool Kragg...
...a prose story illustrated by Mike Lacey...
...and every week a footballer's life story in the centre pages. Art by Barrie Mitchell...
The Voice That Ran the Rangers was an intriguing football mystery, with nice strong art by Bill Mainwaring. Here's page one of the story...
Back to the main part of the comic with Out Of The Ice He Came; an odd story of a failed self-sacrifice/suicide in the Antarctic preserving someone in ice for years, after which he becomes a guardian of explorers. Art by Alan Pollack.



The final strip in issue one was Slave of the Ring. A boxing story of a youth and his cruel step-father. The artwork is fantastic, but I don't know who drew it. Anyone out there have any ideas?  


On the back page, an ad for No.2...
...and here's the very gift that was given away the following week...

This incarnation of The Wizard lasted until 1978, when it merged into Victor. Along the way, Wizard had absorbed Rover, as though enacting revenge for that story paper swallowing up the original Wizard years earlier.

If you're interested in the history of the earlier version of The Wizard, Derek Marsden and Ray Moore authored an excellent book on the story paper a few years ago. More info here:
http://lewstringer.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/review-this-was-wizard.html

8 comments:

Shining Knight said...

I must have read this at the time. as I remember "Out Of The Ice He Came", though if you had asked me before I looked at the strip, I'd have said that the lead character actually was Captain Oates of Scott's ill-fated expedition, rather than a character based on him. None of the other strips ring a bell, though.

Manic Man said...

That Soldiers of the Jet Age does seam like.. well.. standard military comic with the odd changes to make it sound like the future.. through the 'heroes' seam to be given modern day view points to introduce the futuristic world, like commenting on how advanced things are 'today'.

though i'm a bit confused with your opening about it..
"It was drawn by Martin Asbury fresh off his stint on TV21."

.. he claimed in an interview that Soldiers of the Jet Age was done for Hotspur which went for 2 series before he went to TV21, who's work first appeared in it around 1969. So it seams like this strip was a reprint.. of course, he might have been mistaken.. a bit of work back in the 60s,70s when you freelance is easy to get confused with.. (I also think his Secret of the Sheridan Sisters idea for Bunty was.. well.. no chance (he wanted them to be lesbians in the sex industry.. ehuh)

Lew Stringer said...

Perhaps it was a reprint, or a series that had been kept in inventory and not used until 1970. Either way, "jet age" was still an old fashioned term by then and very 1950s.

paul Mcscotty said...

Wow that is a blast from the past Lew - I vividly recall that 1st issue of “Wizard” and being taken a bit aback (even at the age of 10) by the basic cover (but I like it now). Saying that I used to buy the Wizard most weeks and enjoyed it. It had some really good stories and art (some not so great art) and I always recall reading a story about the Aztecs (I think it was “modern age” at the time with explorers finding an ancient tribe) I assumed it was a reprint as it was pictures with the story in type underneath (like Rupert the Bear). I have long forgotten the title of that story but the art was really good and it was a very entertaining story.As always thanks for showing this again I dont remember too many of the strips from the first issue, although but some look familuar.

Lew Stringer said...

I re-purchased this issue recently as I'd thrown out all the ones I had years ago. I know I had the first dozen or so issues, then became bored with it and moved on, choosing to buy Lion instead. Generally, the DCT adventure comics rarely gripped me as much as those of their rivals.

paul Mcscotty said...

I always preferred IPC / Fleetway as well and they were always my number 1 choice, but DCT comics were pretty cheap so I usually managed to pick up Victor and Wizard at times (or my mum or dad would get it for me as an "extra" we treat)

Ken said...

The football photos given in issue 2 were really high quality gloss cards. IEven the plastic wallet was good quality. I have my set tucked away in the roof space!

Lew Stringer said...

Yes, I still have mine, as seen in the photo.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...