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Saturday, February 27, 2010

British Comic Facsimiles (Updated)

Back in the 1970s there were several full size facsimiles of old pre-war British comics published and available in two collections. The comics were presented full tabloid size, and loose leaf with no staples, just as they had been in their original form. The facsimiles were so convincing that today they're often seen on eBay and the like, sold as original comics.

To be fair, some sellers are completely innocent of the fact that the comics are reprints and not originals. Furthermore as the reprints are now over 30 years old they're collectible in their own right, albeit not as valuable as the original editions. Even so, I'm sure collectors would prefer to know if what they were buying were genuine items or not.

As a guide to help collectors know which comics were reprinted, here are the issue numbers and covers of the comics in question.

The first collection was part of a series published by Peter Way Limited called Great Newspapers Reprinted which, as the title explains, reprinted key issues of old newspapers. In 1972 Peter Way released the second Great Newspapers Reprinted Special, priced 20p, sub-titled Six Comics of World War One. (Cover above). The comics were reprinted from the collection of Denis Gifford and Denis himself provided an article inside the wraparound cover about the comics. The six comics it gathered within its outer cover were as follows...

The Rainbow No.168 April 28th 1917.

Illustrated Chips No.1477 December 21st, 1918. (First peacetime issue after the end of the Great War.)

The Funny Wonder No.72 August 7th 1915. (First Charlie Chaplin comic strip.)

Lot-o'-Fun No.453 November 14th, 1914.

Picture Fun No.307 December 26th, 1914. (Christmas issue.)

Comic Life No.893 July 31st, 1915.

Three years later, in 1975, Denis Gifford compiled another collection, this time for the New English Library, publishers of the seventies Target magazine and the notorious skinhead paperbacks. Under the title Collectors Comics, the hope was for it to be a regular series but a second edition never surfaced. Priced at 40p, Collectors Comics No1: Penny Comics of the Thirties followed the format of its predecessor; full size facsimile comics inside a new outer cover, again with sleeve notes by Denis Gifford.

This time the comics were even closer facsimiles by being printed on coloured paper just as the originals had been. However the print quality was murkier than the other collection, resulting in some detail looking clogged up in places. The four comics in this collection were...

Merry Midget No.1 September 12th 1931.

Sparkler No.20 January 23rd 1932.

Rattler No.105 August 24th 1935.

Target No.53 June 13th 1936.

Several years afterward, (late 1970s or early 1980s) yet another collection of old British comics appeared. However there is no danger of these being confused with the originals. Known as the "Tiger Tim Collection" these 16 comics were all printed on heavier quality paper, had staples, and were reduced to a size of 330mm x 240mm. The coloured paper used was also more garish than the original subtle tones. The 16 comics were issued within a dark green slipcase but I understand they were also bound into a book, so there were two versions available. The reproduction was mostly excellent and they're well worth seeking out.

The issues in this collection were:

Funny Wonder No.839 April 26th 1930
Kinema Comic No.547 October 18th 1930
Playbox No.306 December 27th 1930
Larks No.188 May 30th 1931
Tiger Tim's Weekly No.507 August 8th 1931
Puck No.1,430 December 26th 1931
Merry & Bright No.851 July 29th 1933
Jester No.1.692 April 14th 1934

Film Fun No.753 June 23rd 1934
Tip Top No.69 August 10th 1935
Comic Cuts No.2,371 October 26th 1935
The Joker No.431 February 1st 1936
The Rainbow No.1,277 August 6th 1938
The Jolly Comic No.197 October 22 1938
Illustrated Chips No.2,514 November 12th 1938
Butterfly No.1,162 July 15th 1939

Last year saw the publication of seven facsimile comics given free in The Guardian and The Observer, which I covered on my blog here:

Sadly, some of those Tammy No.1 reprints immediately went up on eBay by unscrupulous sellers as original comics, but as far as I could see they fooled no one and remained unsold. Recently, more honest sellers are currently advertising them as facsimiles which is an improvement.

The older facsimiles listed above still continue to turn up on eBay, often listed as genuine originals, so I hope today's blog will be a helpful guide for collectors to bid accordingly.

UPDATE: Reader Dave Whitwell has reminded me that there were facsimiles of six first issue D.C. Thomson comics published in 1978. These appeared as both separate comics and all bound into one book: D.C. Thomson Firsts. Covers below, courtesy of Dave. (I have this book but I've misplaced my copy.) More details about the book are in Dave's comments to this blog.

Friday, February 26, 2010

The "gross comics" debate

Over on the Comics UK forum we've been having a discussion about the use of "gross humour" in today's British comics. My stance being that such comedy reflects modern tastes (or tastelessness if you like) and is inoffensive. In my own work, such as the example from this week's Team Toxic above, I exaggerate the scenes to such a degree that I find it difficult to see how it could offend. Mushroom-cloud farts that melt lamp posts, people fleeing in sheer terror, - surely it's just harmless fun?

Response to such humour in Toxic has been good from the age it's aimed at, - the children, - but some adults seem to disapprove, even though they don't actually buy the comic in question. Personally I feel that if children's comics work for the generation they're targeted at then they must be doing something right. Whether or not the comics disinterest older generations is irrelevant as they're not aimed at those people. Toxic has been around for nearly eight years now and still manages to sell around 47,000 copies an issue. That's more than most individual American comic titles sell across the whole of the USA.

Anyway, that's just my opinion. If you want to read other points of view have a look at the discussion over at:

Sadly along the way the topic turns into yet another Dandy-bashing thread (a popular sport on Comics UK for some reason) but all in all it's an interesting debate. What I found curious was that the fiercest opponents of showing farting in comics said they thought publicly passing wind was funny if it happened in real life. My thoughts are just the opposite: I find it vulgar and immature when people break wind in public, but just harmless fun in the pages of a comic.

Incidentally, if you want to see the two panels above in their proper context within a two page strip, pick up the latest issue of Toxic out now!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Megaton is here!

Today sees the launch of a brand new 100 page magazine for kids, - Megaton! The focus is on video games and there's a 16 page comic section, albeit American material and not originated British strips. Nevertheless, if this first new release from Skyjack Publishing is a big hit who knows what may follow? Over to the official press release for the lowdown...


From the creators of TOXIC and The Official Ben 10 Magazine comes MEGATON – an all-new video game magazine for kids aged 8–12!

Packed with the latest video game reviews and characters, as well as exclusive Cartoon Network comic strips, brain-scratching puzzles and amazing competitions, MEGATON is on sale every four weeks.

Each issue of MEGATON is bursting with 100-pages of cool content and includes fantastic multiple paper-based gifts to collect, from sticker sheets and posters to 3D card models and trading cards, all guaranteed to keep children entertained for hours!

“MEGATON is the only magazine in the children’s market that offers 100 pages of pure gaming and comic content,” said SkyJack Publishing’s Managing Director, Matt Yeo. “We’ve created a truly exciting magazine that showcases kids’ favorite characters and brands in a unique and innovative format, and it’s one that also offers parents real value for money.”

“The addition of officially licensed Cartoon Network comic strips is fantastic news for us and our readers,” he continues, “as it will bring children back to the magazine time and again to read more about the TV shows they regularly want to watch.”

Says Alan Fenwick, Vice President, Turner CN Enterprises, “We’re delighted to be working with SkyJack Publishing on the launch of MEGATON. The magazine is a great brand extension for us and provides the perfect platform for kids and parents to interact with our properties.”

MEGATON # 1 includes a free Tatsunoko Vs. Capcom A4 sticker sheet (featuring 30 stickers), a double-sided LEGO Indiana Jones 2/Bakugan Brawlers A1 poster, and an A4 card model sheet for kids to make a cool character from the hit Cartoon Network TV show, The Secret Saturdays!

In addition to the magazine, Eurogamer has created a fantastic interactive website that ties into the print offering. will officially ‘go live’ on 25th March, utilising much of the magazine’s content but also creating additional online editorial and advertising solutions.

MEGATON # 1 goes on sale today, priced £2.99.
Official website:

Publisher's website:

The latest Commando issues

Thanks once again to Calum Laird at D.C. Thomson for this information on the latest four issues of Commando. All of these comics are on sale now, or by subscription here:

Here's the info on the latest releases...

Commando 4271: AN INCH FROM DEATH

In the shadows of the old sawmill the two officers fought like tigers − a British Military Policeman and an SS war criminal locked in savage hand-to-hand struggle.
And now the ruthless Nazi had the edge, his hands closing round the Redcap’s throat, forcing him closer, closer still, to the buzzing, razor-sharp blade of the bench saw…

Story: Ian Clark Inside artwork: Ricardo Garijo Cover: Ian Kennedy

Originally No 2592 from 1992

Commando No 4272: THE SHADOW WAR

Sixteen-year-old Danny Webster hated being a miner. So, after a pit accident, he decided to do what many lads dream of doing — he joined the French Foreign Legion.
But life there wasn’t a bit like any of the films he’d seen and Danny found himself in Indo-China, fighting a shadow army above…and below…the ground!

Story: Mike Knowles Inside artwork: Denis McLoughlin Cover: Alan Burrows
Originally No 2585 from 1992


When Major Otto Schafer took command of a small village in Brittany, he had to show the locals that he meant business — by taking a large group of villagers hostage.
Sensing disaster, his new adjutant Klaus Mayer urged him to reconsider. Trying to persuade his new CO, Klaus loaned him a book telling the remarkable tale of a similar situation from the region’s turbulent past.
Otto was fascinated by this fantastic tale. And you will be too as you read…

Story: Ferg Handley Inside Artwork and cover: John Ridgway

Commando No 4274: Rifleman From Rio

When he joined the Brazilian Army to escape a deadly enemy in Rio De Janeiro, Luis Silveira didn’t expect to find himself fighting half a world away in Europe. But he did.
When he arrived in Europe with the rest of his unit, he didn’t expect to run across that same old enemy from Rio. But he did.
The bitter fight was on once more.

Story: Alan Hebden Inside artwork and cover: Mike White

Our first inside artwork from Mike White for quite some time but still up to his expected standard.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Ron Embleton's Wulf the Briton

The blog site is showcasing an impressive array of quality artwork including a serializing of Ron Embleton's Wulf the Briton from Express Weekly in 1959. This was simply one of the best adventure strips to have appeared in British comics and the hi-res scans have been cleaned up and presented large size for study. Artist Peter Richardson provides a commentary alongside the strips. As he says in his introduction to the series:
"Wulf the Briton was without doubt Ron Embleton's comic masterpiece, he took over the strip which was a single page cover feature on Express Weekly in 1957. As a result of Embleton's artistic input it went from being an OK'ish main feature to at least aesthetically speaking a rival to Frank Hampson's Dan Dare."

It's interesting to hear that Ron Embleton was paid £200 a week for drawing, painting, and lettering the strip, at a time when the average weekly wage in the UK was £12.

The strip has appeared on Peter's blog since last month and you can begin reading the first episodes here:

Subsequent chapters can be found here:

Peter hopes that one day the complete Wulf the Briton Ron Embleton strips can be collected into book form as they certainly deserve to be.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Next week's Classics

Here's the information on No.167 of the reprint monthly Classics from the Comics that will be on sale next week, Thursday February 25th. It includes a spotlight on artist Barrie Appleby, who has freelanced for D.C. Thomson for many years including stints on Cracker, The Dandy and more.

Full list of contents:

4 Dennis the Menace
6 Calamity Kate
7 Peter Pest
8 Tom Tum
9 Wee Ben Nevis
10 Morgyn the Mighty
13 Joe Soap
14 Saucy Sue
15 My Home Town – Woking
16 Minnie the Minx
17 Biffo the Bear
18 Saucy Sue
19 The Nibblers
20 Corporal Clott
22 Baby Crockett
23 The Three Bears
24 Mickey the Monkey
25 Bully Beef and Chips
26 Pansy Potter
27 Little Plum
28 Classic artist – Barrie Appleby
29 Whoops-a-Daisy
30 Slojak
32 Sleepy Ed
33 Dennis and Gnasher
34 Dimples
35 Cuddles
36 Spotted Dick
37 Granny
38 Jonah
39 Rah Rah Randall
40 Dreamy Daniel
41 WIN!
42 The School Belles
44 Claude Hopper
45 Billy Whizz
46 The Truth About Wilson
50 The Tricks of Screwy Driver
51 Black Bun
52 The Bash Street Kids
54 Puzzle Time!
56 Baby-face Finlayson
57 Korky the Cat
58 Puss an’ Boots
60 Calamity James
61 Tiny
62 Roger the Dodger
63 The Smasher
64 Smiffy
65 Fred the Flop
66 Ivy the Terrible
67 Hungry Horace
68 Biffo the Bear

To subscribe, visit:

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Spring Preview: Classics from the Comics

Here's an advance look at the cover and contents list of the March issue of Classics from the Comics, the 68 page monthly reprint anthology from D.C. Thomson. My thanks to Garry Fraser at D.C. Thomson for the information.

The Springtime cover is a brand new illustration by Ken Harrison, and features the original Hungry Horace before he had his 1965 makeover in Sparky. This ties in with a selection of classic strips from 1957 inside the comic.

Recent issues of Classics from the Comics have seen the title expand from its selection of humour strips to venture into reprinting some adventure strips from the likes of Victor and Hornet. This issue is no exception, with the next part of The Truth About Wilson from Hornet of 1964. One of The Beano's light adventure strips is also featured in the form of General Jumbo.

Issue 168 of Classics from the Comics goes on sale March 25th, priced £2.00.
Here's the full list of contents:

4 Dennis the Menace
5 Harum Scarem
6 P.C. McGraw
8 Bully Beef and Chips
9 Pup Parade
10 General Jumbo
12 Ginger
13 Ali’s Baba
14 The Numskulls / Dicky Burd
15 Baby-face Finlayson
16 Clans of Scotland (Topper feature)
17 Wee Ben Nevis
18 Corporal Clott
20 Danny’s Tranny
21 The Banana Bunch
22 The Bash Street Kids
24 The Snobbs and the Slobbs
25 Mickey the Monkey
26 The Three Bears
27 Cuddles
28 General Jumbo (cont.)
30 Minnie the Minx
31 Monkey Bizness
32 Spotlight on…1957
33 Hungry Horace
34 Wuzzy Wiz
35 Roger the Dodger
36 Korky the Cat
37 The Bash Street Kids
38 Little Plum
39 Hy Jinks
40 Minnie the Minx
41 Biffo the Bear
42 Desperate Dan
44 Billy Whizz
45 Tiny
46 The Truth About Wilson
49 Izzy Skint
50 Dennis the Menace
52 Greedy Pigg
53 The Badd Lads
54 WIN! Classic audio books
55 Fingy
56 Wig and Wam
57 Bananaman
60 Little Plum
61 Spookum Skool
62 Puzzle Time!
63 Dreamy Daniel
64 Brassneck
66 Rasher
67 Fred the Flop
68 Korky the Cat

If you have difficulty finding the comic in your area you can subscribe to it here:

Friday, February 12, 2010

Return of the Underpants

Here's a quick preview of the new issue of Viz that will be in the shops any day now. This time I've written and drawn a Felix and his Amazing Underpants page for the comic, in which Felix uses his stretchable pants to benefit society once more. Being in possession of such remarkable undergarments are a big responsibility and Felix has owned that same pair man and boy for 30 years. Do not imitate him.

Beneath a fABBAulous Fat Slags cover by Simon "Thorpy" Thorp are a wonderment of satirical and sweary gems including Roger Mellie, Major Misunderstanding, The Bacons, Eight Ace, Mr.Logic, Billy The Fish and more or less more, plus exclusive articles on the suspects in the alleged murder of Jonathan Ross and the latest news on the Archbishop of Canterbury being mauled by a bear.

52 pages funny, Viz No.193 will cost you £3.20 (or £3.4s in real money) and you'll need to be over four foot tall to read it as it'll be on the top shelf. Even though you'll probably hear more bad language on the walk to the newsagent than you'd read in the comic.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Daily Mail advocates violence in comics

Here we go again. This week the British media have gotten their knickers in a twist over comics. This time it's about Dennis the Menace being "toned down" and not being allowed his catapult. The Daily Mail, Metro, The Sun, and tv's The Wright Stuff are marching to the same drum, banging on about how "political correctness" has ruined The Beano.

But hang on, didn't the press cover this exact same story six months ago? And similar ones many times before? Yep, but perhaps they assume their readers are too thick to notice.

The story has some truth to it; violence in comics can be a catharsis for readers, but the anti-PC stance of the press in general is riddled with half-truths and bad research. This isn't even a new story, so why did they regurgitate it? Well, there's an election coming up so perhaps they think any excuse to attack the "loony left" will do, and "political correctness" is seen to be associated with left-wingers. Telling Little Englanders that the loony left is trying to spoil our kids' fun is like watching a kettle boil, except the kettle would produce less steam and doesn't clog up the roads on the school run.

Beyond the political agenda there is no logic behind this Beano-bashing by the right-of-centre press. On the one hand they want Dennis to return to vandalism and bullying, but those are the very things the press rages about on a daily basis. I strongly suspect that if Dennis did become more violent the Daily Mail would be the first paper to condemn it, blowing it out of proportion just as they have this story.

Let us not overlook the fact there is no "PC brigade" softening up comics. Comics were toned down because of newspapers of this ilk blasting horror comics in the 1950s and damning IPC's Action in the 1970s. The media itself created this situation that they're now blaming on some imaginary do-gooders.

Read my exposé of the media's previous Beano-bashing from last August:

Update: Title of this post changed to reflect the sort of melodramatic headline the Mail relishes in. I'm sure they won't mind. ;-)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Giant Toxic Bug on the rampage!

The latest issue of Toxic, in the shops today, comes with a free gift of a wind-up Giant Bug, - and it ties in with the Team Toxic strip inside.

When I was a kid I always liked the idea of the free gift being featured in a story in the comic itself. Usually it'd be on the cover, with Korky the Cat on The Dandy using a Thunder-Bang to scare someone, or a Bad Penny on the cover of Smash! with her free cardboard fighter plane.

The idea of such tie-ins tended to die out over the years but in recent times Nigel Parkinson has drawn a few stories for The Beano connecting a free gift or two with the Dennis the Menace story. So when Andy Davidson, editor of Toxic, asked me to come up with a Team Toxic story to promote the free Giant Bug I was only to happy to oblige. (We'd tried it once before, with some free clockwork teeth, but there was a problem with the gift that delayed it a few issues so it didn't quite work out.)

For the Giant Bug story I decided that just featuring a clockwork toy wouldn't be in keeping with the type of city-endangering threats that Team Toxic usually dealt with. So in the comic strip the bug becomes a mutated giant creature rampaging through a school. However it still resembles the free gift so hopefully once the kids have read the issue they'll be acting out the story with their wind-up bug smashing through their Lego models or something. At least that's the sort of thing I would have played out with it when I was a child.

Toxic No.156 is out now from newsagents and supermarkets.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

It's Commando week again!

D.C. Thomson publish four issues of pocket-sized comic Commando twice a month, and this is the week that a new batch hits the shops. Look out for these titles on Thursday.

Commando No 4267: DESERT VENGEANCE

A British mobile canteen. You’d expect it to supply troops with sugar, chocolate, sandwiches or, being British, gallons of tea. You wouldn’t expect it to be the chosen transport of a pair of Aussies bent on vengeance for the murder of their mates.
But strange things happen in war, and the story of this mobile canteen is one of the strangest.

Story: Mike Knowles inside artwork and cover: Carlos Pino

Commando No 4268: Nightmare In The Forest

The Eastern Front, 1944. After a skirmish with some Russians, Sergeant Kurt Sturm’s squad had taken the enemy survivors prisoner, leading them away through an apparently deserted forest.
However, German and Russian alike soon discovered that an even more dangerous enemy lurked among the trees…
They would have to set aside their differences and work together to survive the NIGHTMARE IN THE FOREST

Story: Ferg Handley Inside artwork: Olivera Cover: Nicholas Forder

Commando No 4269: VAMPIRE HUNT

Trapped in an enemy stronghold, SAS corporal Mike King cursed at the RAF Vampire jets flashing overhead. To him there were bloodsuckers in more ways than one — he blamed them for the death of three of his mates.
And now, as their rockets crashed around him, it looked like the Vampires were about to add Mike to their tally!

Story: Ian Clark Inside artwork: Denis McLoughlin

(Originally No 2552 from 1992)

Commando No 4270: TOO LATE FOR GLORY?

The war was over but Jimmy Fisher’s Thunderbolt pilots were still dying in battle… All because of a few Japanese pilots who fought on in a fanatical hunt for glory. Jimmy could be a fanatic too, though — as these Japs were about to find out!

Story: Ian Clark Inside artwork José Maria Jorge Cover: Ian Kennedy

If you want to see how these two artists’ work has changed over the years, have a look back to No 4266 Battle Over Britain which José Maria Jorge completed in 2009. Then compare Ian Kennedy’s cover for this book with No 4260, again completed in 2009. Spot the differences? No, neither can anyone else!

Thanks to Commando editor Calum Laird at D.C. Thomson for the above info and cover images. To subscribe to Commando visit:

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Comic Oddities: Jeremy Bear in 3-D (1971)

Back in 1971, the breakfast cereal Sugar Puffs featured an offer on the packet to send away for a 3-D comic. At the time, the mascot for the food was Jeremy Bear, - a character they'd used since it was launched in 1957, (using photos of a real bear originally). In 1976 this would be replaced by the Honey Monster still used today.

Stylized as a cartoon character, the bear became the star of the 16 page comic The Amazing Exploits of Jeremy Bear. The contents featured three 4 page strips, a single page strip, and three activity pages, all using the red/green 3-D technique. A free pair of 3-D specs was also included.

Published for Quaker Oats by Golden Press Limited of 14-16 Great Portland Street, London. The only credit in the comic reads "Created and Designed by Ellis Eringer". A little research on the net found that Ellis Dale Eringer was born in 1920 in the USA and mainly worked on Disney comics for the overseas market as an inker. Although his Disney work is extensively catalogued here there seems to be no mention of his Jeremy Bear comic on the internet at all, so I'm happy to rectify that oversight today.

I'm assuming this comic was only published in the UK, although it wouldn't surprise me to learn if there were foreign language editions as well. Although the visual style of the Jeremy Bear comic was American, the humour of the strips seems quite British, with each adventure ending with a pun.

The Amazing Exploits of Jeremy Bear is a very nicely produced children's comic, at least on a par with anything else of the time. The 3-D technique worked well too. (It should also work on screen here, if you can get hold of some 3-D specs.) As I recall it was just a one-off and, as the Honey Monster became the new mascot a few years later, Jeremy Bear faded into memory.

A little info on the real "Jeremy" bear:

Here's a photo of the bear on the Sugar Puffs box design from the 1960s (taken from this interesting website This is the Canadian box, but the UK version had the same picture and logo.

UPDATE 11/12/2011:
It just occurred to me that the artist, Ellis Eringer, was the guy interviewed on the 1955 anti-comics TV documentary 'Confidential File'. Sadly, Mr.Eringer goes along with the propaganda in the documentary.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Do You Remember CHAMP?

Blogs on British comics seem to be springing up all over the web these days. as well as the new Beezer blog I mentioned the other day there's now one dedicated to D.C. Thomson's Champ.

Champ was a boy's adventure weekly that ran for a while in the mid 1980s. If memory serves me right it was the last traditional adventure weekly the company would produce. A nice mix of football, mystery, and schoolboy adventure plus a humour section.

The Champ blog has only just gotten underway so there's not a lot there yet, but what is there should whet the appetites of everyone who remembers this lively comic. Visit the site at:

Wednesday, February 03, 2010


Now is that a great cover or what? Yes, The Daleks are coming back. This Spring on BBC One... and this time they're in World War Two. More details in the latest Doctor Who Magazine. Out Thursday. 'Nuff Said!

Official Doctor Who Magazine Facebook page:
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