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Friday, December 30, 2016

VALIANT celebrates the New Year (in 1965)

For my final post for this year, here are a few pages from the New Year issue of Valiant for 1965. Cover by the excellent Mike Western.

Valiant was mainly an adventure comic but it featured a healthy amount of humour strips too, and they were all celebrating the New Year. Here's Sporty by Reg Wooton (the only cartoonist at Fleetway back then to have a credit in the title box)...

The Nutts, drawn by Angel Nadal...

Billy Bunter, with art by Reg Parlett...

The Crows, also by Reg Parlett, next to one of the many ads back then trying to encourage readers to join the armed forces when they left school. Thankfully such adverts were phased out as British comics became increasingly aimed at a younger audience...

The adventure strips in this issue didn't bother shoehorning New Year into the ongoing storylines but it wouldn't be right blogging about Valiant without showing a taste of the dramatic strips. Here's that week's episode of The Steel Claw, drawn by Jesus Blasco...

Mytek the Mighty, drawn by Eric Bradbury...

Finally, the back page featured It's A Dog's Life, a European reprint of the Boulle and Bill series by Roba. You can read more about this strip in an older article I did here:

All that's left to say is to wish you all a Happy and Healthy New Year, and to thank you for following this blog. Here's to good things for 2017!

Thursday, December 29, 2016


Earlier I showed a copy of Panto Playtime Comic that had been published in 1948. Here's the follow-up, that was published a year later in 1949. 

Panto Pranks had the same publisher as its predecessor, (The Hotspur Publishing Co. Ltd. of Manchester) but was a slicker affair. Although only having eight pages, it was printed entirely in bottle green ink throughout (with orange spot colour on four pages) in the more expensive photogravure method (like Eagle, TV21, early issues of Wham! etc). 

The entire comic was completely designed, written, and drawn by Denis Gifford, a comics all-rounder long before most of us were born. Some of the gags were a bit creaky even for 1949, and the connection to pantomimes somewhat tenuous in places, but it's still an interesting example of the post-war British independent comic. (And unlike most of today's indie comics, this would have been sold in newsagents, back when such retailers were eager to satisfy the demands of kids thirsty for comics.) Here are a few strips from this one-off comic...


Well, it's the right time of year (Oh no it's not! Oh yes it is!) so I thought I'd dig this comic out of my collection. Panto Playtime Comic was one of the numerous British independent comics published after the war. It had just eight pages on cheap paper, with hasty spot colour on four, and was the size of an American comic. It was published by The Hotspur Publishing Co. Ltd, Gloucester Street, Manchester and was a one-off. 

The artist on all of the humour strips was Alan Fraser, who had a simple and very distinctive style. His artwork and the somewhat surreal stories remind me a little of Nigel Auchterlounie's work on The Numskulls in the present day Beano.

The comic featured one adventure strip, Dexter Lee, drawn in a basic style by an anonymous artist. The strange thing was, the same story was also told in text form on the same page as Crime in the Haunted Manor. Whilst it was common in British comics then to have text beneath each panel telling the story, this parallel storytelling method seems a bit baffling and unnecessary. The strip is a much more condensed version of the story, so it actually works better as a prose tale. 

There was also a different Pantomime theme comic by the same publisher a year later, which I'll show in my next posting. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The BEANO is back!

Cover by Nigel Parkinson.
Returning after its three-week Christmas break, there's a new issue of The Beano in the shops today! As you can see from Nigel Parkinson's great cover above, it's the New Year edition, celebrating the onset of 2017.
All your favourite strips are included, and I'm very pleased to say that I'm back in the comic this week with the start of new runs for Pup Parade and Ivy the Terrible! It's great to be back on these two classic strips which are fun characters to draw. Pup Parade was a favourite of mine to read back when it started in the late 1960s so it's an honour to be writing/drawing their adventures today.

Don't miss Beano No.3865, on sale now for just £2.50.

Hachette launch Transformers comics partwork in UK newsagents

Marvel UK's The Transformers comic was good to me, or, to be more accurate, its editors were. Shiela Cranna accepted my Robo-Capers strip (starting in issue 15 I think) and then other editors such as Richard Starkings, Simon Furman, etc kept me busy producing more Robo-Capers and Combat Colin strips for the comic so that I was in almost every issue of its 300 plus run. However, the main draw of course was the title strip itself, reprinting the U.S. Transformers strip but also producing brand-new material for the UK market featuring the robots in disguise. 

At its peak, The Transformers was selling over 200,000 copies an issue to readers in Britain during the 1980s. It helped establish Marvel UK as a major publisher in the British comics industry and gave work to many creators at the time. Now, Hachette has just released the first edition in a new partwork series of hardback books; Transformers The Definitive G1 Collection, setting out to reprint the entire run of Generation One Tranformers stories from the UK and USA. It will not only include the old Marvel stories but also the more recent ones that were published by IDW. 

The first book, in newsagents now, is at the special price of £1.99. Issue 2 will be £6.99, and then the series settles at a regular price of £9.99, which is still a good price for a hardback graphic novel. 

The first book reprints Target:2006 from UK Transformers Nos.78 to 88, written by Simon Furman with art by Jeff Anderson, Geoff Senior, Ron Smith, and Will Simpson. 

The book also reprints stories from the U.S. Transformers Nos.21 to 23, written by Bob Budiansky and drawn by Don Perlin. Unfortunately, for some reason, the reproduction of the linework isn't too good on these American strips and the finer lines have dropped out (see photo below). I hope things like this can be rectified in future issues.

As with other Hachette graphic novels, the volumes aren't being released in chronological order. The first one is volume 6, the second will be volume 35, the third volume 16. They probably think it's better to start off with strong stories but it must be a bit frustrating to readers wanting to follow the continuity. Nevertheless, Transformers The Definitive G1 Collection is bound to be a popular series amongst the many fans young and old alike who either remember the classic stories or are discovering them for the first time. 

You can subscribe to the series at the Hachette website (which also shows the TV ad for the books):

Friday, December 23, 2016

Christmas comics: COMIC CUTS (1947)

Our final destination in the Blimey-Timey-Tour through the Christmas comics of the past sees us land in the year 1947 and the issue of Comic Cuts that was on sale this time back then. It was a time of post-war rationing, and this was reflected both in the flimsy 8 page format and in the strips themselves. There's something very appealing about the orange and black cover though, which makes a change from the more commonly used red spot colour of other comics of the time. The cover strip, Sammy and Shrimpy, was originally by Arthur Martin according to Denis Gifford's reference books, but I'm convinced this one is by Albert Pease.

As always, the centre pages really packed in the laughs with a variety of strips. I usually select a few samples from spreads like this but as it's Christmas I thought I'd show the centre pages in their entirety. (In case you didn't already know, click on the pages, and click again to see them at full size.) I'm not sure who to credit for all of the strips but Big Ben and Little Len is definitely the distinctive work of Bertie Brown...
Here's one of the four text stories from this issue, along with an advert for Mars bars, then promoted as a healthy food! 
On the back page, Pinhead and Pete, and I must warn you that, typical of the era, it's quite racist. The two characters are shown as equals, and as friends, but... aagh, that caricature and the racist language mars an otherwise nice strip. Art by Bertie Brown. The mini-strip at the foot of the page looks like Cyril Price's work to me.

...and that's it for this Christmas! I hope you're enjoyed all of the classic festive strips I've shown you this year. By the way, today (23rd December) is the 10th anniversary of this blog! Yes, on this day back in 2006 I decided to start blogging and you can read that first post at this link:

Over the past ten years I've written over 2,000 posts, shown thousands of vintage pages, previewed hundreds of new comics. I've also encountered a handful of trolls and sociopaths before realising they were best avoided, but the thousands of comments from decent folk have made blogging worthwhile. My thanks to everyone who has supported Blimey!, including readers, publishers, and fellow creators. 

Where does this blog go next? Well, I never planned to be blogging forever, so I'm taking a few days off to think about it. My main intention for Blimey! was to focus on old comics (and creators) to help prevent them falling into obscurity. Hopefully I've achieved that in some small way. It's likely I'll be blogging less in 2017. I'll still be showing previews of new comics but the vintage stuff may be scaled down a bit in the future as I focus on work and other matters. Don't be too disheartened though. With over 2,000 posts over the past ten years it's likely there's some you've never read (or may have forgotten about) so use the search facility to see if your favourite UK comic or creator has been covered.

I'll be back before the end of the year with previews of my new Beano strips and more, but until then, I wish you a very Merry Christmas! 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Christmas comics: BUBBLES (1936)

For this penultimate Christmas post I've cranked up the Blimey-Timey Machine to travel back in time 80 years! This is the issue of Bubbles that was published this week in 1936.

Published by The Amalgamated Press (Fleetway), Bubbles was a weekly comic for the very young that ran from 1921 to 1941. As you can see, like many comics of the period, its content was full of racial stereotypes and references that may cause offence. In its defence, the characters are presented as equals to the white children, despite being caricatures. It was trying to promote racial harmony, albeit somewhat clumsily, and I can't help feeling it was more likely to exaggerate the differences between races.

I don't know who drew the cover. Herbert Foxwell was the original artist of The Bunty Boys but he died in August 1936 so this must be by someone ghosting his style.

This issue had 12 pages and was a mixture of prose stories and strips, as was the norm in British comics of the time. Here's one of the text stories; Dick the Boy Inventor. You don't hear anyone named Richard use that an an abbreviation these days do you?

On the facing page were two strips. According to Denis Gifford's books, The Children of the Forest was drawn by Vincent Daniel, and Tony the Orphan Boy by Anton Lock.

Bubbles featured quite a few adventure strips. Lonely Nan was by H.C. Milburn...

The centre pages, using spot colour, had a mixture of short humour strips. Here are some of them, artists unknown. (Did children really receive hedgehogs as Christmas presents in the 1930s?) 

Here's another of the unfortunately-titled strips of the era. Art by P.J. Hayward...

On the back page, Peter the Paleface Brave and his chum Redflower. Art by Anton Lock again. Some of this is cringeworthy today, such as Redflower's pigeon English and the notion that "a White Redskin" should rule over Native Americans, but it is of its time and no malice is intended. That said, I hope we never go back to such stereotyping!

Tomorrow; the final blog post in this series!

Christmas preview: THE PHOENIX looks Smart!

Jamie Smart has just posted this photo on his Facebook page of this year's Christmas edition of The Phoenix. Jamie's drawn the cover, and a striking image it is too. 

This issue will be in selected branches of WH Smith and Waterstones (and some comic shops I believe) on Christmas Eve. That seems a bit late to me for a festive issue (traditionally they're published the week before) but I understand subscribers will receive their copies earlier than that.  

Thanks to Jamie for letting me post his photo here. If you're out and about in your local town on Christmas Eve, go Phoenixy!

Coming up next: a trip waayyy back in time for another vintage Christmas issue!

Last minute stocking stuffers!

If you want to get your kids (or yourselves) a last minute stocking stuffer, don't forget that there are two helpings of Christmas goodness from The Beano this year! There's the bumper sized 68 page 'bookazine' Beano Christmas Special which is packed with all-new strips and features (plus a free set of stickers) for just £4.99. It even includes a four page Bash Street Kids strip written by Andy Fanton and drawn by me. 

Then, there's also the Christmas issue of the regular weekly Beano, with 36 pages of all-new stuff plus it comes bagged with gifts for £4.50. All the top UK humour artists are here, including Nigel Parkinson, Laura Howell, Hunt Emerson, and more! 

...and next week (28th December) I'll be back in the Beano with new series of Pup Parade and Ivy the Terrible. Never Be Without A Beano!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Christmas comics: LION (1973)

Sometimes, British comics that are heading for closure tend to deteriorate in quality, but even a year before its end, Lion was still full of good material. Even so, it obviously wasn't appealing to most readers but even at 14 (as I was then) Lion was still one of my favourite adventure comics of the time. 

Here are a few pages from Lion's final Christmas issue, published this week in 1973. The front cover is by Geoff Campion, one of IPC's best artists, illustrating a scene from that week's Spellbinder episode, written by Frank Pepper and drawn by Campion...

TV impressionists were very popular at the time, so Lion reflected this by having an impressionist who was also a spy! Marty Wayne, He's Heading for Fame, was drawn by Fred Holmes. (I don't think a Rolf Harris impersonator would be welcome at a children's party today though!)

It's a Fact was an irregular feature. Can anyone identify the artist? 

A Christmas theme wasn't appropriate to fit into all the adventure strips, but Robot Archie managed it. Art by Ted Kearon...

Time-travelling Adam Eterno found himself on the frontline on Christmas Day. Art by Solano Lopez...

On the back page, Lion's only remaining humour strip, Mowser, by the brilliant Reg Parlett...

Another trip back in time tomorrow! Which year will we arrive in? 
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