Thursday, March 08, 2018

A look back at SCOOP (1978)

The rivalry between D.C. Thomson and IPC was quite intense in the 1970s, although the creators and editors themselves often had a mutual respect for their counterparts at the opposing company. Both publishers turned out a lot of different titles in the heyday of "traditional" UK comics, and in 1978 D.C. Thomson published Scoop, clearly intended to rival IPC's Tiger.

It was the era of "theme" comics, and, like Tiger, Scoop's theme was sports stories and features. It was a classy looking comic. Scoop had 32 glossy pages printed in the top of the range photogravure method, meaning that photographs and painted artwork would reproduce at their best. 

It also had a lot of full colour pages (12 out of 32), but unfortunately some were not used to their best advantage. For example, each three or four page strip would lead with a full colour page, but sometimes the colour was only used in one or two panels, or for the title. It seemed a wasted opportunity. 

The design of the strip pages followed the standard that Thomsons had set with Warlord a few years earlier (and which IPC had imitated with their adventure comics); a big splash panel and huge logos for dramatic effect. Quite a robust "in yer face" approach but it gave the pages more impact than the more sedate layouts of comics like Hotspur or Victor. Here's a selection of pages from issue No.3 (the only one I have)...

Art: Neville Wilson.
Art: Barrie Mitchell.
Art: Tony Harding.

The early issues of Scoop had a nice balance of strips and features but as I understand it, later issues gave more room to the features, making Scoop more like a magazine (and perhaps an intended rival to IPC's Shoot). Some strips remained though, and after 194 issues it merged into Victor

A run of nearly four years is not to be sniffed at, and Scoop was certainly more successful than some of Thomson's other boys' comics of the time such as Spike and Crunch. All the more so when you consider that Scoop's glossy format made it more expensive to produce and necessitated a higher cover price than most of its contemporaries. 
One of the later issues. Photo from eBay.
I rarely see Scoop mentioned by collectors or historians but I presume it must have some loyal fans who remember it fondly. It did well in a crumbling market, before licensed comics became the norm, so it deserves to be respected alongside the other long-gone D.C. Thomson comics. 


Andy Boal said...

If I remember rightly, Ball Boy had a strip in Scoop for a while as well.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Very interesting. Thanks! Btw what do you mean by "licensed comics?"

SID said...

It looks good and I would have gotten it if I was into sports (or sport stories). That's the reason why I went off Tiger and never really got Roy of the Rovers or Hot-Shot!.

Lew Stringer said...

Thanks Andy. I never knew that. At the time, I'd stopped buying most UK comics and certainly wouldn't have bought a sports-centric comic like Scoop. (Although I did like Tiger, oddly enough.)

Charlie, when we talk of "licensed comics" we mean comics based on a TV show, movie, game etc. where publishers compete to gain the licence from the copyright holders to produce official comics based on their properties. (Such as Transformers, Sonic the Comic, Ghostbusters, Doctor Who etc.)

Same here, Sid. I liked Tiger but I couldn't get into Roy of the Rovers or Hot Shot at all.

john said...

Hmm, I don't remember Scoop at all, I'm surprised I didn't notice in almost 4 years, especially since at that time aged 11 to 14 I read pretty much every comic I could get my hands on.
I seem to recall that in my small NZ town DC Thomson comics were not so common as the IPC comics (even now, Toxic, for example is not distributed here).
I did read and enjoy The Crunch around that time 1979-80 although I dropped it not long after it was merged into Hotspur.
In fact the 54 issues of The Crunch are the only DCT comics I still have, along with IPC's 2000AD, Battle, Scream, School Fun and Jinty.

keepsakes said...

I had an old Scoop annual as a kid and liked it, though as with other annuals I had from defunct titles, I wasn't sure if there ever had been a comic of that name or if the annual existed as a standalone title.

I remember those partially-coloured or title-coloured pages from DC Thomson adventure comic summer specials in the '80s and early '90s. At the time I naively didn't think it was to do with saving money. Instead, I thought that there must be a policy of keeping stories either all full-colour or all black and white, in case readers found it confusing or jarring to read a full colour story that suddenly turned to a black and white one. Offhand, I don't remember any DC Thomson story in that period, either adventure or humour, doing this. And the pages in colour were arranged in a set pattern, usually with full colour on only one side of the page, so a true full colour story more than two pages long would be "continued after next page".

Paul Mcscotty said...

This one totally passed me by although in 1978 I was immersed in Marvel black and whites and undergrounds/small press and I think I was only picking up the UK Marvel MWOM regularly re UK comics- Im a big football fan but for me very few comics ever did football well a few exceptions being the likes of "Roy of the Rovers", "Its goals that count" and the wonderful (and truly funny times) "Hot-Shot Hamish" (and not because he is Scottish) I though for the cartoon element alone Lew you and others would like the "Hot-Shot"strip for the art alone- the black and white panels on colour pages looks quite strange to me.

Lew Stringer said...

Hot-Shot Hamish wasn't cartoony though was it, Paul? Besides, I don't like *every* humour strip y'know. :) Hot-Shot Hamish had good artwork but wasn't my cup of tea.

keepsakes, I don't know the technical reasons but back then it seemed the limitations of the printing process didn't enable back to back colour printing so that's why a colour page would be black and white on the next page. No doubt if they'd used a far more expensive process and better paper (like that used for the annuals) it could be done, but not for photogravure printing at the time.

Andy Boal said...

I'd suspect budget limitations. Only enough money to pay for alternate pages to be full colour - and of course it was using the magazine paper format.

Re Ball Boy, I didn't see the strips in Scoop (never really have been a football fan) but I think it began in about 1980. It may have been a mini-strip, I honestly don't know.

Lew Stringer said...

It was more to do with the limitations of the printing method I think, Andy. If you look at TV21, Countdown, Look-in, Boys World, Wham!, Huckleberry Hound Weekly, TV Tornado, Diana, Look and Learn, and other comics/mags that used photogravure printing back then such as Sunday newspaper supplements, they didn't have full colour on both sides of the paper either.

Eagle and Girl were the only exceptions that come to mind. Perhaps Hulton used more sophisticated equipment and a better paper stock that colour wouldn't soak through.

garylee said...

Was there also a similar looking D C Thomson comic out around the same time that featured The Professionals comic strip ? I thought it was in Scoop but as this was sports themed, it seems I’m mistaken.

Lew Stringer said...

Yes, it was called Tops, D.C. Thomson's answer to Look-in. Later became TV Tops, and later still became a girls comic and merged with Suzy (I think it was Suzy anyway).

varszava_vavava said...

I remember Scoop as always being part-comic and part-magazine. Some of the stories were more IPC than DC Thomson in nature eg Stark Matchwinner for Hire and Killer. I think both those strips had artists that worked on Action. There was a story called Leiper the Keeper - rare football strip about a goalie. Tiger took note and started the Safest Hands in Soccer.

And for HotShot Hamish. The early artwork was more cartoony and enhanced the strip. It was more humorous too. Later the art became bland and the strip became dull.

Unknown said...

I used to love Scoop. Got it every week. I see that a lot of people don't remember it. I'm not surprised. It was not oftenoften on many newsagents' shelves. I got it on order from my local shop.

So many great stories.

Jon Stark, Matchwinner for Hire was a brilliant concept, if you could suspend the reality that a freelance player could not have done what he did in reality (e.g. play for one team right up until the cup final and then play against his previous employers in the final).

Buster, the well-meaning, but maverick tennis player was the Nick Kyrgios or Dan Evans of the comic world.

Ben Lieper, who you show above, and his team mates were involved a Munich-style air disaster, with Ben ending up being confined to a wheelchair and becoming a manager.

Lew Stringer said...

Thanks for your thoughts, Unknown!

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