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Saturday, June 12, 2010

1966 and all that

The frenzy of World Cup fever is nothing new, although in decades past fans tended not to believe that fixing flags to car windows or daubing their kids faces with red and white paint would manifest some tribal magic to make the England squad play better. Back in 1966 for example, the year of the only World Cup match I've bothered watching, England won even without the encouragement of TV viewers lying in a puddle of sick brought on by 16 cans of Stella. (Ok, perhaps it was Davenports beer-at-home back then instead.)

Comics of 1966 joined in the fun too. England mascot World Cup Willie was used to sell the World Cup idea to the kids, with Willie appearing on anything from badges, T-shirts, Rolykins, nougat bars and a comic strip in TV Comic. (The example below is, I believe, the work of Bill Mevin. Correct me if I'm wrong.)
Valiant also hopped on the bandwagon with the T-shirt offer shown at the top of this post and The Valiant Big Book of Football. It wasn't really a book though, but was instead a series of four page pull-outs that built up to a 32 page comic over eight weeks, (issues 30th April - 18th June inclusive) printed on traditional "sport's pink" paper.

The pull-out supplement featured a host of soccer info, from the story of the World Cup... the careers of the England players...
No doubt other comics of 1966 also focused on the World Cup but, from what I remember, not to a great extent. However, never being a competitive sports fan I was happy at the time to avoid comics like Victor and Tiger and escape into the pages of Odham's Smash! and Wham!, neither of which ever featured sports stories as I recall.

Today, as a contributor to comics, I'm happy to draw football stories on occasion and in a few weeks Team Toxic has a World Cup theme in the next issue of Toxic. More on that when the issue appears.


Anonymous said...

amazing stuff come on england

crow said...

I find it interesting that they never really twigged on to selling tee shirts with their characters printed on them (I remember 2000AD sold tee shirts in the early days). I would have thought it'd be a nice earner for the publishers? Maybe there wasn't the market/interest in the 60s?

Lew Stringer said...

There was definitely an interest as Odhams gave away Marvel T-shirts and sweatshirts as prizes for published letters. Perhaps Fleetway and Thomsons felt it too vulgar to capitalize on merchandising?

Having said that, there was a Steel Claw T-shirt offer in Valiant. Perhaps it didn't sell very well and they decided not to do any more? I'll dig out the ad for it and show it here soon.

John Pitt said...

My World Cup Willie was actually the "emperor" of my rolykin Daleks!!

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