Sunday, January 15, 2017

50 Year Flashback: POW! No.1

I've blogged about the first issue of Pow! before, but as this weekend is the comic's 50th anniversary I thought it was worth reposting my article. Pow! was a favourite comic of many of us back then, a lifetime ago, and is still memorable today. 

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) andr 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.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Happy memories of a great comic.I remember having the first issue but the free gift was so flimsy it lasted about a week.A cardboard gun and cardboard bullets was a bit rubbish. The following week spiderman transfer wasn't much better. I think about 3/4 of it came out on the t shirt. Still happy memories though!

Lew Stringer said...

Perhaps you were just unlucky, anonymous. As you can see from the photos, I still have my cardboard gun. It was quite sturdy. The T-shirt transfer came out really well too. I might show that soon if I haven't already.

Anonymous said...

I just remember the bullets getting bent and the cardboard peeling. I blame my mum for not ironing the transfer correctly. I can't believe you still have these after 50 years!

Lew Stringer said...

Yes, I've kept loads of old free gifts. See this blog post here:

http://lewstringer.blogspot.co.uk/2010/11/free-inside-part-1.html

John Pitt said...

I never get tired of posts about Power Comics ( or TV 21! ), so an excellent idea to celebrate Pow's 50th, which ( and shame on me! ), I had completely forgotten about till I checked my blogger dashboard.
Well, another coming VERY soon with Fantastic's 50th! - My favourite Power comic!

Lew Stringer said...

Yes, 1967 was definitely the year of Power! I'll be covering it all here. Accept no imitations! ;-)

Nutty Big D said...

That's Terrific news ;)

paul Mcscotty said...

Great post Lew. It is so hard to believe its been 50 years since I first read this comic. I can still recall finding POW (and Wham and Smash)a bit "strange" compared to other comics (but in a good exciting way)I also used to find Ken Reid and Steve Ditko's art, when I was a kid, quite dark and brooding. I always thought that Leo Baxendale did the "Dolls" logo illo.

Lew Stringer said...

A lot of people think Leo worked on Pow! but he left Odhams in 1966. Although he did apparently work with Mike Brown (unofficially) on pages for Odhams after then. I think Mike Brown inked his layouts, but Brown did a lot all himself too, so it's not clear who did what. Definitely Ron Spencer on the Dolls though.

Lew Stringer said...

And it definitely feels like every day of those 50 years to me! A lifetime ago. In some ways it feels like that was someone else's life because things have changed so much.

John Parker said...

Thank you very much for that, Lew. POW! lives on strongly in my memory. Really made my day. Yours is one of the best blogs on-line. Looking forward to "the year of Power!" on this blog.

Lew Stringer said...

Thanks, John! That's nice to hear.

Jean-Paul Jennequin said...

The French publisher of Marvel Comics, éditions Lug, did exactly the same thing with Spider-Man, not using the story from Amazing Fantasy 15 and starting with the first story from Amazing Spider-Man 1 in Fantask 4 (May 1969).

Lew Stringer said...

I didn't know that, Jean-Paul. Thanks for that information. I don't think I've seen Fantask but I do have an issue of the French comic Strange that featured Marvel reprints from around that same time.

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