Sunday, January 06, 2008
Score 'n' Roar - short-run soccer comic
On Saturday 12th September 1970 IPC Magazines launched a new addition to their growing line of new weekly comics. Score 'n' Roar was a 32 page football comic/magazine featuring the same "two in one" gimmick as IPC's Whizzer and Chips had pioneered a year earlier. Score and Roar were effectively two 16 page comics, with Roar being a pull out in Score's centre pages.
The contents seemed pretty strong. More or less a 50/50 split of strips and features, more colour than the average IPC comic, and photogravure printing giving quality reproduction to artwork and photographs. Yet it only lasted for 41 weeks before merging into companion footie comic Scorcher. What went wrong?
A few theories:
1) The "two in one" gimmick was convincing for Whizzer and Chips because its main rivals, Dandy and Beano, at that time were 16 page comics for 4d (8d in total). So Whizzer and Chips being "two" 16 page comics for 6d undercut DC Thomson. However, Score 'n' Roar were claiming to be two 16 page comics for 9d in a market where other adventure comics had 32 pages for around 7d each. (Yes, a mere 2d made all the difference in those days.) Therefore Score 'n' Roar seemed poor value in comparison, and its "two in one" gimmick seemed phony (which of course it was).
2) Score 'n' Roar fell between two stools. Was it a comic or a magazine? Only a year previously IPC had successfully launched footie mag Shoot! Why should Shoot's loyal fanbase buy Score 'n' Roar when they could get more football info from Shoot?
3) Similarly, IPC had earlier that year launched footie comic Scorcher. Again, why should readers of Scorcher buy the more expensive Score 'n' Roar? By their very nature theme comics only appeal to readers interested in that theme and this was stretching things too thin. Seemed there was only enough support for one football comic and Scorcher (being newsprint and cheaper to produce) had the upper hand.
Shame really, as Score 'n' Roar did feature some good material. Here's a few samples:
Cannonball Craig. "Skinny Craig Cartwright found that he developed a tremendous cannonball shot whenever he ate some of his Grandpa's bubble and squeak". Ok, daft premise, but the artwork (either by a rushed Mike Western or Mike White, I can't tell) was strong enough.
Peter the Cat. Artwork by Tom Kerr. Kid goalie who amazed everyone with his skill. Clearly inspired by Peter Bonetti. Not Kerr's best work, but he was quite prolific at that time.
Phantom of the Forest. Art by Jesus Blasco. Ghost of deceased footballer who could gain human form whenever an ancient football was kicked. Typically barmy British comics premise but interesting to see Blasco drawing a football strip instead of The Steel Claw.
Trouble Shooter. Art by Graham Allen. The token humour strip in the comic.
Nipper. Art by Solano Lopez. Easily the most popular and enduring character in the comic. Young Nipper Lawrence struggles to rise from poverty and to clear the name of his dead father. Featured a thuggish character called Pete Belcher,- one of IPC's best names for a villain. Clearly the readers responded well to this emotional story of a hard luck hero as the strip successfully carried on in Scorcher and later into Tiger for many years.
Score 'n' Roar seemed to be in trouble from the start. A few months after its launch it became simply Score (dropping the "two in one" gimmick). This prepared it for its merger into Scorcher at the end of June 1971.