Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Original art for sale

I'm selling off one of my original Macho Man strips that I did for Marvel UK back in 1986. You can buy it from my eBay page here:
https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/MACHO-MAN-MARVEL-UK-ORIGINAL-COMIC-ART-by-Lew-Stringer-1986/202811123630

Macho Man was a strip that appeared in Marvel UK's Secret Wars comic. You can read the full saga on my main blog here:
https://lewstringercomics.blogspot.com/2015/01/the-saga-of-macho-man.html


Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Digital SPELLBOUND collection coming for Halloween

There have been rumours from D.C. Thomson's Heritage Comics department and now it's been revealed on Twitter that they're releasing a Spellbound digital book on 30th October! A mixture of classic and new stories. Info in the image below.
Spellbound was published by D.C. Thomson from 1976 to 1977, and I looked back at an issue the other day on a blog post here.

UPDATE: Looks like Spellbound may have encountered some gremlins. I'll post more news when it's available. 

New characters debut in COMMANDO this week

A-Force is the name of a new team of military characters making their debut in Commando No.5275, out this week. Good to see D.C. Thomson still generating not only new material in these pocket sized comics but also creating new characters to return in future issues. Here's the info direct from Commando HQ...

5275: Home of Heroes: A-Force

From the mind that brought you ‘Ramsey’s Raiders’ comes ‘A-Force’! A modern day Commando following the exploits of Jack Ramsey, Grandson of Captain Jimmy Ramsey of Ramsey’s Raiders fame. Given a crew of his own, operating behind enemy lines, fighting terrorists — can Jack live up to his grandfather’s reputation or will he be trapped living in his shadow? 

| Story | Ferg Handley | Art | Carlos Pino | Cover | Carlos Pino |


5276: Gold Collection: Castle Sinister 

It’s 1944, and the Odd Bod Squad are pushing into Germany with the rest of the Allied invasion.  Little do they know that some diabolical Germans have a last ditch plan to halt the invasion once and for all with something called the ‘Red Death Virus’. The virus is so deadly it could kill a person before they finished their final breath. And where were they developing this virus?  In Castle Sinister, of course!

| Story | CG Walker | Art | CT Rigby | Cover | Penalva |
Originally Commando No. 753 (1973).


5277: Action and Adventure: Commandos Vs Zombies

Commando goes Horror for Halloween! A routine raid on a heavy water plant in Norway goes horrifically awry for a team of Commandos when they come face to face with a horde of flesh-eating zombies! A Commando issue of firsts, the Halloween issue features the first Commando comic to push the limits of art and production with edge to edge art where the only bleeds come from the zombies!

| Story | Georgia Standen Battle | Art | Vicente Alcazar | Cover | Ian Kennedy |


5278: Silver Collection: Death’s Head

A gang of ruthless SS Death’s Head soldiers led by a savage officer called Karl Schwarz are on the loose in Bavaria, hunting and killing whoever they please. On their trail is a Wehrmacht Oberleutnant named Werner Lang, whose life depends on him catching them! If he doesn’t he’ll be up in front of an American firing squad on the charge of murder.

| Story | John Paterson | Art | Garijo | Cover | Ian Kennedy |
Originally Commando No. 2914 (1995).






Monday, October 28, 2019

Only a few days to go to pledge to the ROK THE GOD Kickstarter project

The clock is ticking and there's only a few days until the Rok the God Kickstarter project ends. It needs to reach its target on Friday 1st November! It's close... but still needs more pledges.

Rok the God is the sequel to the highly enjoyable Rok of the Reds, one of my favourite British comics of recent years. The saga of the alien who takes over the body of a footballer had traditional UK comic elements to it sure to appeal to fans of comics both classic and new. 

It's written by John Wagner and Alan Grant, illustrated by Dan Cornwell and coloured by Abigail Bulmer, so you know you're if for a top class comic! Rok of the Reds was published as a six issue mini-series, but the idea is to publish the sequel as a complete graphic novel... and that requires a lot of money up front, hence the Kickstarter.   

Interested? Then head over to the link below to choose an option and pledge your money today! 
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/wagnerrok/rok-the-god


Friday, October 25, 2019

A look back at SPELLBOUND (1976)

The mid-1970s were an interesting period for British comics. The old style comics such as Hotspur and Lion had become to look somewhat old fashioned (in fact, Lion had folded in 1974). Bold new titles were emerging such as Warlord, Battle, Bullet, and Action

Changes were afoot in the girls' comics too, heralded by Tammy in 1971, with stories that packed more of an emotional punch than its predecessors. Theme comics were all the rage now, and in 1976 D.C. Thomson tried something new with a girls' weekly having a supernatural theme. Spellbound was its title.

Spellbound only ran for 69 weeks so clearly didn't engage as many readers as hoped. A great pity, as from all accounts it was a very good comic! I never bought it at the time because... well, I was 17 and it was a girls' comic, so I didn't even give it a glance. These days I can view it differently, with a more mature attitude and a professional eye, for its art and story construction. However, a complete set is very expensive today, and even individual issues sell for around £9 on eBay. I recently invested in one issue to see what it was like. 

The sample pages here are from Spellbound No.8, dated November 13th 1976. One thing that was clear as soon as I saw it was how much it must have influenced IPC's Misty when they launched it two years later. Typically though, Thomson's Spellbound is a little calmer than IPC's Misty, but they are similar in style and design. 

Here are a few pages from that issue. The art is superb and possibly by mostly European artists? Unfortunately I can't identify them so if anyone can help, please post a comment below. 


The strip that most seem to remember is Supercats. Four super-powered young women encountering space mysteries. The art for this is usually cited as Enrique Romero but this one doesn't look like his style to me. 
Spooky storyteller Damian Darke provided the narration for the complete stories every week. This one has fantastic artwork...


There's a rumour that something supernatural may be stirring from Dundee around Halloween. Will it be related to this classic comic? More news as I receive it... 



Cover preview: 2000AD Prog 2155

In shops next Wednesday...

UK and DIGITAL: 30th October 2019 £2.99
NORTH AMERICA: 30th November 2019 $25.19 (per pack)
DIAMOND: AUG192162
COVER: STEWART KENNETH MOORE

In this issue:

JUDGE DREDD: GUATEMALA by John Wagner (w) Colin MacNeil (a) Chris Blythe (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)

DEFOE: THE DIVISOR by Pat Mills (w) SK Moore (a) Ellie De Ville (l)

BRINK: HATE BOX by Dan Abnett (w) INJ Culbard (a) Simon Bowland (l)

HOPE: UNDER FIRE by Guy Adams (w) Jimmy Broxton (a) Ellie De Ville (l)

THE FALL OF DEADWORLD: DOOMED by Kek-W (w) Dave Kendall (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)


Available in print from: newsagents and comic book stores via Diamond
Available in digital from: 2000 AD webshop and apps for iPadAndroidWindows 10

*********************************************************



Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Great News, Pals! ACTION, BUSTER, BATTLE, TAMMY, MISTY... and SMASH! return to the newsstands in 2020!

Cover by Staz Johnson, colours by Quinton Winter.

BREAKING NEWS FROM REBELLION....

Battle, Action, Smash!, Tammy & Jinty and more return as 2020 specials from Rebellion!

Publisher announces twelve new specials for 2020, including return of some of the most influential British comics ever!

Legendary comics Battle and Action are back as part of a roster of TWELVE new special titles for 2020 from Rebellion Publishing!

Some of the biggest titles in comic books return, many of them for the first time in decades, as Rebellion lights up newsstands, comic stores, and digital devices from March through to December.

Reviving old favourites while introducing new audiences to the very best of British comics, these new specials include original fresh work from top names such as Garth Ennis (The Boys, Preacher), Ram V (Catwoman), Alex de Campi (Dredd), Rob Williams (Suicide Squad), Dan Lish (Egostrip), VV Glass (Doctor Who), Danijel Žeželj (Luna Park) and many, many more!

From the groundbreaking war stories of Battle to the violent carnage of Action, from home-grown superhero action in Smash! to old school derring-do with The Return of Sexton Blake and classic espionage in Thriller Picture Library , there's something in this line-up for all readers! As if that wasn't enough, then we're heading to the future with a special focusing on Rebellion’s eagerly anticipated release of Evil Genius 2 and kicking off exciting European Cup action with Roy of the Rovers!

There’s also the return of last year’s hit specials – Cor!! Buster, Misty & Scream!, and Tammy & Jinty! – along with a 2000 AD Sci-Fi Special celebrating two decades of Thrill-power under the Rebellion banner!
Cover by Neil Googe, colours by Jim Boswell.

These titles will all be available from all good newsagents and comic book stores.

All the 2020 specials will also be available to pre-order as a special £59.99 subscription bundle from the 2000 AD webshop, which includes 20% off and with an exclusive bagged reproduction of the infamous ‘banned’ issue of Action from October 1976!

Keith Richardson, senior editor at Rebellion Publishing, said: “We’re really excited about our 2020 specials and to be able to put together such an impressive roster of talent has been a real privilege, with plenty more announcements still to come.

“Rebellion owns the world’s biggest archive of English language comics and to say we’re spoilt for choice is an understatement – but we’ve picked out iconic titles to reinvigorate for the 21st Century, alongside some of the best new products Rebellion has to offer. We’re putting these comics back where they belong – back on the newsstand and back in front of new audiences.”

March: Action Special
April: Cor!! Buster Easter Special
May: Smash! Special
June: Roy of the Rovers Euro 2020 Special
June: 2000 AD Sci-Fi Special: Twenty Years of Rebellion
July: Tammy and Jinty Special
September: Battle Special
September: Misty and Scream! Special
November: Thriller Picture Library Special
November: The Return of Sexton Blake
December: Misty Presents... Special
Date TBC: Evil Genius 2 Special

It horrified prudes and censors alike – but the ground-breaking Action is back! The 1970s comic they tried to ban returns with the same blend of unbeatable characters and no-holds-barred action – all brought to you by the best talents of today! Featuring the killer shark Hookjaw by Dan Lish, juvenile delinquency in Kids Rule OK by Ram V and Henrick Stahlstrom, frontline German Panzer with Hellman of Hammer Force by Garth Ennis and Mike Dorey, merciless secret agent action with Dredger by Zina Hutton, and the brand new Hell Machine by Henry Flint. Plus, the exclusive edition available from the 2000 AD website will come with a bagged reproduction of the ‘banned’ issue of Action from October 1976!

The biggest and brightest humour comic in Britain is back for another 48-page special! A smash hit with kids, the Cor!! Buster Easter Special brings together two of Britain’s most beloved humour comics for 48 pages of belly laughs and silly japes from some of the best creators around, including Lew Stringer and John Freeman on Buster and Delbert, Sweeny Toddler and Gah! by Tom Paterson, Grimly Feendish by Ned Hartley and Tom Paterson, Frankie Stein by Cavan Scott and Steve Mannion, Daisy Jones' Locket by Olivia Hicks and Shelli Paroline, Birdman and Chicken by Edward Whatley, Swines of Anarchy by Lee Langford and Pye Parr, Faceache by Matt Smith and John Lucas, Gums by Lizzie Boyle and Abigail Ryder, Deadly Hedley by Paul Goodenough and Rositsa Vangelova, Kid Kong by Alec Worley and Tiernen Travallion, and Duck Turpin by Robin Etherington and David Follett.

They’re the home-grown superheroes who gave Superman and Spider-Man a run for their money – and now their back in the Smash! Special! Featuring some of the most original and unusual caped crusaders you’ll ever encounter, this 64-page special features super-villain-turned-hero The Spider by Rob Williams and John McCrea, supercharged secret agent The Steel Claw by Danijel Žeželj, the ‘missing link’ who became the man of the future Johnny Future by Tom Raney, giant robot ape Mytek the Mighty by Suyi Davies Okungbowa and Anand Radhakrishnan, and many more!

It’s going to be an incredible summer of football with the European Championships and the Roy of the Rovers Euro 2020 Special will bring you excitement on and off the pitch. Featuring the talents of the Roy of the Rovers creative team – Rob Williams, Lisa Henke and Tom Palmer – this 48-page special kicks off this June!

2020 marks two decades since Rebellion stepped in to save the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic. The 2000 AD Sci-Fi Special celebrates 20 Years of Rebellion with a specially-curated look at 2000 AD during the tenure of its longest-serving owners and longest-serving editor; featuring some of the best talents of the past 20 years, this 48-page special celebrates the evolution of 2000 AD since its namesake year with comics and features about Britain’s biggest and best comic!

Tammy and Jinty return for two feature-length stories from modern creators in a new 48-page comic, continuing the work of last year’s hit special! Tammy and Jinty were ground-breaking female-led comics covered that everything from science fiction and fantasy to romance and domestic drama. Now retooled for the 21st Century, the Tammy and Jinty Special pays tribute to this legacy of trail-blazing comics while introducing a new audience to the medium!

It was the comic than inspired a generation and introduced readers to some of the reality of war – Battle is back and it’s bigger than ever! This 96-page special features the returns of Rat Pack, Destroyer, El Mestizo, and more of your favourite characters – direct from the comic book front lines! Inspired by the classic comic and ground-breaking characters, creators such as Garth Ennis, Alex De Campi, Alan Hebden, Brent McKee, Keith Burns, Rob Williams, and more bring you stories of war inspired by real events but with the flair and excitement that made Battle the innovative comic it was!

Following the success of last year’s fright-filled outing, the Misty and Scream! Special returns this Hallowe'en! Two of Britain’s best loved comics reunite for an anthology of brand new tales that are guaranteed to terrify and entertain you – courtesy of a coven of creators, including Kek-W, Simon Coleby, Vincenzo Riccardi, Cavan Scott, Alec Worley, DaNi, and many more!

Thriller Picture Library was the pocket book series packed with thrilling tales of danger and adventure, which delighted audiences for more than a decade in the mid-20th Century, establishing the careers of D. C. Eyles, Mike Hubbard, Eric Parker and Septimus E. Scott. With a brand new cover by VV Glass, this 128-page special includes two classic John Steel adventures from the 1960s, drawn by Luis Bermejo (Eerie, Vampirella) and coloured for modern audiences!

He’s the world’s greatest detective and now one of the most popular fictional characters of all time, Sexton Blake, is back! Part Sherlock Holmes, part action hero, Blake was created by Harry Blyth in 1893
and his instant success saw him become the subject of countless novels, comics, radio, and TV, making him one of the last century’s most popular characters. Featuring a guide to his adventures alongside just some of his timeless comic book adventures, The Return of Sexton Blake is a 96-page collection that will reintroduce the master of mystery and suspense!

Christmas is the perfect time for a ghost story and this year’s Misty Presents... special will bring a few seasonal scares with a 48-page special that will shock your Xmas stocking off the wall and have you cowering under the tree with your presents! Prepare yourselves for a Yuletide shocker as M.R. James meets Black Mirror in a brand new title to round out a very special year!

Evil Genius 2: World Domination is coming to Steam in 2020 in a fully-fledged sequel to the 2004 classic PC game – and, like all the best villains, now that we have you captive we’re going to reveal the inner workings of our fiendish plans in a 64-page special! In this spy-fi lair builder you take control of an Evil Genius, with your aim nothing less than taking over the world and the Evil Genius 2 Special will take you behind-the-scenes on this long-awaited sequel!


You can pre-order the specials bundle which includes a facsimile reprint of the banned 1976 issue of Action at this link:
https://shop.2000ad.com/catalogue/graphic-novels/treasury-of-british-comics/B0015

Commando goes horror for Halloween!

Breaking news from D.C. Thomson....

Releasing in time for Halloween, Commando is bringing a new menace to its pages, the Nazi zombie horde! 
The fear is very real in Issue 5277, ‘Commandos vs Zombies’! This spine-tingling story features a team of commandos facing off against the walking dead for real this time — no hallucinations, mistaken identities, or G-Tex simulations this time!

Commandos Leo and Lionel are best friends fighting side by side as part of an elite commando squad. But a seemingly routine raid on a Norwegian heavy water plant puts their friendship to the test when they come face to face with the only thing more dangerous than Nazis, Nazi zombies!

The creepy Commando story is written by Georgia Standen Battle, who some readers may remember as the uncanny mind behind the almost-as-eerie Commando issue 5229 ‘Shadow in the Storm!’, the first Commando by a female writer in over 30 years. Battle has also been trusted with bringing classic Warlord hero ‘Union Jack Jackson’ to the pages of Commando in an upcoming adventure, so keep your eyes peeled for news on that release coming very soon!

The creeping cadavers and desperate commandos are brought back to life in vivid detail by long time Commando artist, Vicente Alcazar, and features some of Commando’s most ambitious art including inset panels, full-page bleeds, and double-page spreads!
Owners of Heritage Comics’ release ‘The Art of Ian Kennedy’ were given a sneak peek at the cover of this issue long before its release. The legendary Ian Kennedy’s finalised artwork sits on the cover of ‘Commandos vs Zombies’ in all its gory glory.

Issue 5277 ‘Commandos vs Zombies’ will be available to buy from WHSmith stores or digitally on Comixology, Page Suite, Readly, and on Amazon Kindle from late October. 


Tuesday, October 22, 2019

New issues of FANSCENE available to read online

I'm still catching up with items I promised to promote before this blog ends in a few weeks so here's a quick plug for Fanscene. This is published by David Hathaway-Price who does a brilliant job. It's dedicated to the history of fandom in the UK, but also includes lots of articles on all aspects of comics. It's like the fanzines of old, whilst also celebrating those days. 

Issues 3 and 4 have been published this year in digital format and you can read them for free at David's website here:
https://davidprice5.wixsite.com/classicukcomicszines

Although they are free, David suggests that readers send a small donation to the charity of their choice. 

The zines are really nicely designed on a par with High Street mags such as SFX and Doctor Who Magazine. Here are a few pages to give you an idea of content... 






It's hoped that David might do print editions next year for those of you who prefer your magazines in hard copy. And if you do, you'll be pleased to hear that Fanscene No.2 is available in both digital and print. Obviously you have to pay for the print edition as over 200 pages aren't cheap to print! Contact David at david.price@post.com for more info on ordering. 




Coming in 2020: KING'S REACH

Various people in comics seem to be writing their autobiographies these days and one that's coming next year will be King's Reach: John Sanders' 25 Years at the Top of Comics. 

Sanders was a chief editor at IPC during a very productive time that saw him oversee talents creating comics such as TammyBattle, Action, and 2000AD. His inside knowledge of the industry should make for interesting reading! The title of course is derived from the location of IPC's offices back then; the imposing King's Reach Tower on the South Bank of the Thames. 

The book will be published by Rebellion in July 2020 and you can pre-order it from Amazon at this link:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Kings-Reach-Sanders-Twenty-Five-Comics/dp/1781088217




Coming next year: DEATH SQUAD!

I noticed this on Amazon earlier tonight. In August 2020, Rebellion will be publishing a collection of Death Squad, the tough war series that began in Battle-Action in July 1980. Written by Alan Hebden and illustrated by Eric Bradbury, readers are in for a treat! (The cover states that Carlos Ezquerra was involved too. I didn't know that. Perhaps he drew episodes for the annuals?) 

More info on Amazon, where you can pre-order the book...
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Death-Squad-Alan-Hebden/dp/1781087687

No doubt Rebellion will reveal more information next summer but this blog will be long gone by then so I thought I'd give people the heads up today. 





Monday, October 21, 2019

Preview: COMIC SCENE No.9

This coming Thursday sees the publication of Comic Scene No.9 which will be available from WH Smiths and various comic shops. 

Contents will include a feature on Ken Reid's work on Scorcher, written by Irmantas Povilaika...

...and a look back at Halo Jones by Chris Hallam...

Plus lots more. The main attraction being a pull-out comic, Great War Dundee featuring all-new comic strips Ragtime Soldier by Pat Mills, Gary Welsh, and Phillip Vaughan plus other stories. 


Look out for Comic Scene No.9 this Thursday! 


Sunday, October 20, 2019

Preview - ROY OF THE ROVERS: TRANSFERRED


The fourth graphic novel in the all-new series of Roy of the Rovers will be published next month. This fast-paced reboot of the character is a fresh and exciting story for a new generation and this time Lisa Henke takes over the art duties. 

Here's the info from Rebellion...

CREATIVE TEAM: Rob Williams (w) Lisa Henke (a) John Charles, Guilherme Lindemberg Mendes, James Offredi (c) Jim Campbell (l)
RELEASE DATE: 14 November 2019
HARDCOVER, 112 pages
PRICE: £9.99 (UK)
ISBN: 9781781087503

ROY OF THE...TYNECASTER? Thanks to a mighty team effort, Melchester Rovers have reached the dizzy heights of League One. For Roy Race however, the final had a bittersweet taste to it both he and Paco Diaz have been transferred to Melchester Rover's bitter rivals, Premiership champions, Tynecaster.
Available in print from: book stores, Amazon, and UK comic book stores via Diamond


Available in digital from: Roy of the Rovers webshop & apps for iPadAndroid and Windows 10



See the rest of the story in Roy of the Rovers: Transferred. In bookshops from November 14th. 

Saturday, October 19, 2019

The Sheerglam Conspiracy

I still haven't got around to reading this book but I thought it's high time I gave it a plug for the benefit of anyone out there who hasn't heard of it yet. 

The Sheerglam Conspiracy is a new novel by Steve MacManus, who you probably know as the editor of 2000AD in its glory days (1979 to 1987) as well as working on Battle Picture Weekly, Action, and Valiant, and launching notable titles Crisis, Revolver, and Judge Dredd Magazine. With his new book, Steve parodies the British comics industry of the 1970s and the fierce rivalry between Goodenough Publications and Tartan Editions. No prizes for guessing who they're a thinly disguised satire of. 

In The Sheerglam Conspiracy, a shock suicide sparks off a bitter circulation war, with each company plotting the downfall of the other. It's a story that's bound to interest and amuse any of us who are interested in the background of British comics, and those of us who have worked in the industry. 

Now you may think it sounds a bit similar to Pat Mills' Read 'Em and Weep books but I'm sure Steve takes it into a fresh direction. It's just the setting that is the same, but if the book industry can tolerate numerous stories set in the world of CSI I'm sure it can withstand two thrillers set in comics publishing. 

The Sheerglam Conspiracy is available to buy Print On Demand from Amazon at this link:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/SheerGlam-Conspiracy-Mr-Steve-MacManus/dp/1077821506/


Friday, October 18, 2019

Read Comic Scene for FREEEE!

As a sampler for potential new readers, Comic Scene have now made their second issue totally free to read as a digital magazine. (It was published in print a year ago.) It includes a variety of topics, and an interview with me, Tim Quinn, and others regarding our humour strips for Doctor Who Magazine

Read it for free at this link:
https://issuu.com/comicsflix/docs/comic_scene_comedy_issue_digital_2_/34?ff





Cover preview: 2000AD Prog 2154

UK and DIGITAL: 23rd October 2019 £2.99
NORTH AMERICA: 23rd November 2019 $25.19 (per pack)
DIAMOND: AUG192162
COVER: CLINT LANGLEY

In this issue:

JUDGE DREDD: GUATEMALA by John Wagner (w) Colin MacNeil (a) Chris Blythe (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)

DEFOE: THE DIVISOR by Pat Mills (w) SK Moore (a) Ellie De Ville (l)

BRINK: HATE BOX by Dan Abnett (w) INJ Culbard (a) Simon Bowland (l)

HOPE: UNDER FIRE by Guy Adams (w) Jimmy Broxton (a) Ellie De Ville (l)

THE FALL OF DEADWORLD: DOOMED by Kek-W (w) Dave Kendall (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)

Available in print from: newsagents and comic book stores via Diamond
Available in digital from: 2000 AD webshop and apps for iPadAndroidWindows 10

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

50 Year Flashback: WHIZZER AND CHIPS No.1

A few days ago was the 50th anniversary of Whizzer and Chips, but I completely forgot about it due to the 40th anniversary of Doctor Who Magazine being on the same day! Anyway, here's my belated post on the subject (which is in itself an updated rewrite of a blog post I did ten years ago)...

Five decades ago, on Saturday 11th October 1969, IPC Magazines launched the first of many humour titles that would propel them to the top of the British comics industry. Whizzer and Chips No.1 arrived boasting the unique selling point of it being "Two comics for only 6d", - 16 page Chips comic was inside 16 page Whizzer.
As with most comics of the period, Whizzer and Chips No.1 was promoted on television with short, snappy ten second advertisements and within other comics (such as Smash!) with four page pull-out ads.

In reality, Whizzer and Chips was only ever one comic of course, and, within the walls of IPC, was regarded as such by its editor Bob Paynter. At the time D.C. Thomson's Dandy and Beano each had 16 pages for 4d and IPC knew they couldn't compete on that level, so the illusion of two comics for 6d worked, as Whizzer and Chips seemed better value for money as "two" comics than it would have as one.

Being a rival to Dandy and Beano was obviously the intention, and IPC's clever "two-in-one" marketing technique ensured the success of the comic right from the outset. A comic cannot survive on a gimmick alone of course, and fortunately Whizzer and Chips also had a strong content. Many of the humour strips were created by relatively new cartoonist Terry Bave and his wife Sheila who provided the scripts. Bave had learned his craft freelancing for Odhams on strips such as Sammy Shrink and Baby Smasher. For the early issues of Whizzer and Chips he provided no less than seven pages! One of the most popular, Me and My Shadow, a simple but imaginative concept, can be seen here...
Other artists who had freelanced for Odhams also appeared in IPC's new venture. Mike Lacey kicked off with Odd-Ball (which would run for many years by various artists) and Sid's Snake, but the superb Graham Allen was wasted on the limited strip Give A Dog A Bone (a dog tries to hide his bone every week with not-quite-hilarious consequences). Earlier that year, IPC had dropped Mike Higgs' very popular strip The Cloak from Smash! but Bob Painter asked him to create a new strip for Whizzer and Chips. The result was Space School, which, due to editorial tastes, lacked the scope and satire that had made The Cloak so popular, but was still a funny strip in itself...
Adventure strips also appeared in the early issues of Whizzer and Chips, albeit fairly lighthearted ones compared to the sort of material that comics such as Valiant featured.
Kings of the Castle was a ho-hum strip about the working-class King family inheriting a castle, The Space Accident was a science fiction strip drawn by Ron Turner, The Spectacular Adventures of Willie Bunk was about a kid with magic glasses, but the standout strip for me was The Stealer, nicely illustrated by Tom Kerr...

The most distinctive humour pages in the comic were written and drawn by veteran comic artist and comic historian Denis Gifford who presented us with Koo-Koo Klub and a revival of his 1950s Knockout character Steadfast McStaunch. Every week Gifford devised puzzles that McStaunch would need the reader to solve, - a great interactive idea. Whist Gifford is remembered as the author of many books on comics (who also devised tv and radio shows) his inventive comic style has now mainly been forgotten which is a great shame. Here's the first 1969 Steadfast McStaunch, completely written, drawn, and lettered by Denis...
Another gimmick that Whizzer and Chips was renowned for was the "rivalry" between the two comics, where characters from one comic would "raid" the other, - and the readers would have to spot them in backgrounds. That didn't kick off until issue two, however Chips No.1 cover-starred Sid's Snake - the characters that from No.2 would be the cover stars and mascots of Whizzer. The famous cover star of Chips, accident-prone Shiner, didn't appear until the second issue.
Right from the outset Whizzer and Chips looked slicker, stronger, and better designed than its Odhams predecessors Wham!, Smash!, and Pow! had been. Personally, as a ten year old reading it back then, I found it entertaining but not as irreverent or, well, funny, as the Odhams weeklies had been. The hallmark of IPC's humour comics was "safe" comedy, and Bob Paynter would always encourage creators to be "careful", fearing backlash from parents and retailers.

That said, hundreds of thousands of kids obviously enjoyed Whizzer and Chips immensely, given its long run. Even though I never found Harry's Haunted House anywhere near as entertaining as The Nervs, I still stuck with the comic until my early teens, - mainly due to the solid storytelling and artwork. The popularity of Whizzer and Chips led to the launch of Cor!! in 1970, and many other similar titles such as Whoopee!, Shiver & Shake, Monster Fun, Jackpot, and others which enjoyed varying degrees of success. Even Fleetway's Buster was gradually revamped into an all-humour title to fit within the IPC humour group.

IPC attempted the "two-in-one" gimmick again in the early 1970s with football weekly Score 'n' Roar and humour comic Shiver and Shake. Neither were very successful, proving that innovation is better than imitation. (My theories on Score 'n' Roar's failure can be read here.)

Fifty years ago I remember a schoolmate of mine, Grant Hicks, running around the playground of our junior school with Whizzer and Chips No.1, ecstatic that he'd got "Two comics for the price of one". IPC's gimmick had paid off, and continued to do so for that title for many years.

Companion comics which fell by the wayside, such as Knockout and Whoopee! were merged into the seemingly invincible Whizzer and Chips. Eventually the two-in-one comic's luck ran out. Whizzer and Chips folded in 1990, by which time a drop in sales and budget cuts meant that it contained a lot of reprint and had reduced its total page count from 32 pages to 24, phasing out the Chips insert. Yes, in the end Whizzer and Chips merged into itself, before being swallowed up by the long-running Buster.

Images from Whizzer and Chips are Copyright ©Rebellion Publishing.

I've been told by the editor of Best of British magazine that their latest issue carries an article on Whizzer and Chips' 50th anniversary, so look out for it in your local shops! 



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