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Saturday, November 03, 2012

Sixties sparklers: POW! and BUSTER

Above is the cover to Pow! No.43, which would have been on sale this week in 1968. As the comic folded into Smash! in the following year, this would be Pow's only firework edition. 

Inside, sandwiched between Marvel reprints of Spider-Man and Sergeant Fury, were a number of home grown strips. Only a few had bonfire night themes, such as this Dolls of St. Dominics two pager, drawn by Ron Spencer...

As you can see, as in the issue of Wham! I showed in the previous post, Pow's depiction of fireworks was over the top and carefree. The same attitude prevailed in The Group strip by Mike Brown...

Most outrageous of all was Ken Reid (naturally) with Dare-A-Day-Davy indulging in a spot of terrorism, ending with him being being blown up by his own fireworks.

Now, compare that to this issue of Buster and Giggle. Same era, different publisher. Fleetway's comics were slicker than Odhams' Wham!, Smash! and Pow! The strips in Buster used mostly long established artists and the scripts were more polished and tended to rely on wit rather than comedy violence. The Buster's Dream World strip even ends with Buster looking directly at the readers and cautioning them to use fireworks responsibly. Personally I felt that seeing Dare-A-Day-Davy blown up carried a more memorably preventative message about the dangers of fireworks than this heavy handed patronising speech. (Buster became even more of a lecturing ninny in the 1970 issue.)

Inside this issue of Buster, things are a little more daring, but somewhat more subdued compared to Pow! This page from the Charlie Peace strip (drawn by Jack Pamby) also features someone being blown up by fireworks, but, unlike Dare-A-Day-Davy, the emphasis is on the lightshow with the person unseen once the explosions begin.

One strip that didn't sit well with me was this episode of Freddie "Parrot Face" Davies in Buster. Excellent artwork by Reg Parlett as always but the scene with jumping jacks being thrown at the cat just looks cruel rather than funny.

Buster's The Twitopians, drawn by Stan McMurtry, is very gentle compared to anything seen in Pow! or Wham! On the plus side, the script shows a bit more ingenuity than those of rival comics. 

Finally, an advertisement from that issue of Buster for Standard Fireworks, with a message that never goes out of fashion for this time of year; take care - and enjoy yourselves.  


Graeme Wood said...

Excellent blog and many happy memories there. Speaking of the Freddie Parrot Face Davies strip do you know if anyone has ever documented UK strips based on tv characters/shows? Aside from the obvious Look-In Tv Comic runs I've noticed several others like the Junior Coronation Street in other UK Comics?

Lew Stringer said...

I don't think anyone has, Graeme. It'd be quite a task.

The only one I can think of is the Technodelic website, which you may already be aware of. It's a superbly researched listing of Gerry Anderson strips:

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