Saturday, February 17, 2018

Comic Oddities: WONDER (1968)

Here's a comic from the 1960s that wasn't on sale in any newsagents but still had national distribution. The reason being that Wonder Weekly was published by the Esso Petrolium Company Ltd, and sold at Esso garages.
Wonder was edited by Roberta Leigh, a multi-talented author, artist, composer, and tv producer who was responsible for the cult classic Space Patrol puppet series. She had also created the puppet show Wonder Boy and Tiger, and featured them as the cover stars of the new comic.

Wonder had 16 pages including 4 in full colour, and was printed web offset (like Jag and Cor!! but on slightly thicker paper). It sold for 6d, so it was a competitive price to other comics of the day, even though most others would have more pages. Most of the artwork was uncredited (typical of UK comics) but has a very European look so I imagine most of the artists were recruited through an agency. Here's a few pages. I've credited them where known...

Hovercraft Patrol, art by Luis Bermejo.


Nitwits art by Joseph Lee.




Bossy Boots art by Juan Rafart (signed as RAF).
Gulliver Travels art by Juan Rafart (signed 'Raf').
I only saw this comic once, in the summer of 1968, sold from a stall at the Royal Show when I was on a school trip. I didn't buy it then as it probably wouldn't have survived the journey with a bus full of kids wanting to borrow it, so I made a mental note to get it when I returned home. My family never had a car so as I never visited a garage I never saw the comic again, and it always puzzled me for years until I learned of its restriction to Esso outlets. I've since bought a few on eBay, but it remains a rare item to find, and no one seems certain of how many were produced. Denis Gifford's books say 52, and a year's contract would make sense, but I've never known of anyone to have issues beyond No.20. If you have any more info, please post a comment below (or just post a comment anyway if you have any thoughts on this comic).


10 comments:

Gavin Burrows said...

I still have my Asterix books purchased for me by my Dad with Total petrol tokens. Garage sales may have been a bigger thing in the Seventies.

Lew Stringer said...

Yes, there were all sorts of promotions back then. A family friend gave me picture cards (of racing cars) that were only available from a Mobil garage. There were collectable medals too.

Kal said...

That The Holy Terrors page irritates the hell out of me. The art is so familiar, but I can't quite place it. GAH!

Pretty good strip, mind.

Peter Gray said...

you could also get a smurf!

Great find Lew

Roberto Del Corazõn said...

I think some of the comic pages have an Angel Nadal feeling in it. Might not be him, but close enough to guess it's made by spanish cartoonists. Fun to see the Esso tiger in the title, and wholesomely it seemed like an appealing magazine.

Roberto Del Corazõn said...

Good ol' Lambiek is always there to give a hand when we need it... Raf, artist of the Bossy Boots and Gulliver Travels pages : http://www.lambiek.net/artists/r/raf.htm

Lew Stringer said...

Thanks Roberto.

Manic Man said...

Ah, information on these kind of comic is sadly soo limited but I love looking into small time freebie comics like this.. (also ones done on breakfast cereal packets etc).. such a field that is being sadly neglected.. nice work with the info on this ^_^.

Also Anything by Roberta Leigh is great to see as most of the TV shows she worked on no longer exist (thanks to her finding a copy at home, Torchy the battery boy does, but only episode 1 is known to exist for both Twizzle and for Sara and Hoppity...

Charlie Horse 47 said...

I get a Calvin and Hobbes vibe from the boy and tiger?

Lew Stringer said...

Kind of, although Wonder was published long before Calvin and Hobbes of course.

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