Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Drac's back! Classic SCREAM! strips reprinted

Ireland based publisher Hibernia Comics have produced another winner in the form of an 86 page collection of a classic strip from Scream! weekly. The Dracula File contains the complete run of the fondly remembered story from the 1980s written by Gerry Finley Day and Simon Furman and illustrated by Eric Bradbury and Geoff Senior.

Scream! was a horror comic for boys published by IPC but sadly cut short after 15 issues by a strike. Even though it was only around for a fleeting time the comic has its fans who remember it well. The Dracula File, featuring Dracula in present day England, was one of the best strips in the comic, notably for the atmospheric artwork by the late great Eric Bradbury. Egmont now own the rights to the strip but have allowed Hibernia to publish the comic by special arrangement. 

The Dracula File collects all of the episodes plus material from the Scream Holiday Special and bonus features. It's available to buy now directly from the publisher. Check out their other books too. I highly recommend all of them:
http://www.comicsy.co.uk/hibernia    

Monday, March 30, 2015

More ads from 1970

I've shown lots of ads from comics here before and now here's another bunch you may remember. (Hopefully they'll also prove interesting for those of you born after 1970.) 

I've never minded adverts appearing in comics. As a kid they kept us informed of stuff we might like, and looking back on them now they serve a useful purpose in putting the comics in the cultural context of the times. Such as the ad for instamatic cameras...
Due to stricter rules about advertising in children's comics today, a lot of these items wouldn't stand a chance of appearing now. Sugary breakfast cereal and chocolate would be out for a start.


Jam and fireworks? Nope. Not a chance.  

I'd bet there'd even be some objection from some people today if comics advertised voodoo shoes too. What? Voodoo shoes? Yep....

One type of advert I was glad to see the back of were the ones encouraging kids to have a military career. I'm sure that may ruffle some feathers of some readers but I never thought they were appropriate for kids comics, and the 'Hunter-Killer' one shown here was particularly distasteful in my opinion.
Anyway, let's take a look at the rest of the ads. All of them appeared in Lion weekly in 1970...  









Comic Oddities: The Monkees Crazy Cartoon Book (1967)

Back in 1967, when there was a Daily Mirror Books department producing various paperbacks for Andy Capp, The Perishers, and so on, they capitalized on the Monkeemania fad by publishing this item. The Monkees Crazy Cartoon Book was a standard pocket-size paperback full of humour comic strips featuring (you guessed it) The Monkees pop group.

The book was actually a British edition of an American one published a year earlier. (The US version didn't have the 'Crazy Cartoon Book' added to the title.) It was written by Howard Liss and illustrated by Gene Fawcette. The contents were a mixture of four longish adventures and three short (3 page) strips, plus four pages of portrait photos of Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz, Mike Nesmith and Peter Tork. Presumably the book was one of the first items of Monkee memorabilia created as Mike is only referred to as 'Wool Hat' in the strips, which was his name in the pilot episode. 

As you can see from the random examples I'm showing here, the approach the comic strips took was to try and mimic some of the surreal comedy of The Monkees TV show. It could prove to be a bit silly in places.

Anyway, it's an unusual item that may have passed you by so I thought I'd show a few pages from it here. I've had the book since 1967 so my apologies for it being a little dog eared and tanned around the edges now. 







      

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Lady Penelope No.42 (1966)

Lady Penelope was a pretty cool character for a puppet, and her comic equally so. Take a look at the cover to Lady Penelope No.42 above, dated November 5th 1966. Its companion comic TV21 often played around with its own logo but never to this extent. A gigantic Lady P logo dominates the cover, even dispensing with the comic's full title that week. (The words 'Lady Penelope' usually ran alongside the logo in the left hand corner.) I don't recall any other comic being as experimental with its cover as this in the 1960s. Also, when you consider that this comic was the size of a tabloid newspaper you can imagine how eye catching it must have been. 

For its target audience of young girls, Lady Penelope must have seemed like the most modern and 'with it' comic they'd ever seen. Its contents were pretty groovy too. On pages 2 and 3, was a strip featuring The Monkees drawn by Tom Kerr. The artist's work was as superb as ever but what's interesting here is that he added little items to the strip in the way that Bill Elder had with Mad a decade earlier. Note for example the UFO in panel three, and the man hanging from the panel border in panel seven. 


Lost In Space was a popular TV show at the time about the Robinson family trapped on a distant planet. Lady Penelope had a Space Family Robinson strip but this had no relation to the TV series. It was instead based on the American Gold Key comics, but with brand new stories for the UK drawn by John Burns. 

The Lady Penelope strip itself ran across the centrespread in the sort of glorious full colour only achievable by the expensive photogravure printing of the time. Artwork by Frank Langford.

The comic certainly employed some top class talent. Ron Embleton delivered fine work as the illustrator of The Man from UNCLE...


There were also a few humour strips in the comic. The excellent Bill Titcombe drawing Bewitched...

The Beverly Hillbillies. (I'm unsure of the artist. Paul Trevillion perhaps?)

Perils of Parker, drawn by Peter Ford...

There was also a prose serial, All the King's Men, featuring an ancestor of Penelope. Art by John Canning...

On the back page, Marina from Stingray had her own series. Nicely illustrated by Rab Hamilton...

The rest of the 20 page comic was taken up with reader participation features and suchlike. I thought you might like to see a couple of adverts from this issue too, which reflect the times. First is an ad for a Sugar Puffs promotion where girls could buy 'Julie... the fashion doll with everything' for 21/- (One pound and 5p). Turns out that 'everything' included stockings and suspenders for the doll. Guaranteed to turn the head of any Action Man. 

The other full page ad was for a variety of Century 21 toys. No doubt worth quite a bit on the collector's market today. 

As you can see, Lady Penelope was quite an impressive comic with some great artwork. Too bad that most of us lads back then were too embarrassed to be seen with a girls comic! If you want to read about its history, check out the brilliant Technodelic website here:
http://www.technodelic.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/Upload03/LadyPenelope02.htm

Friday, March 27, 2015

Huckleberry Hound Weekly


Capitalising on the very popular TV cartoons produced by Hanna-Barbera, Huckleberry Hound Weekly ran from 1961 to 1967. Published by City Magazines of London, the 16 page tabloid was printed photogravure in a style and format that City would also use for TV21

Huck himself starred in his own strip on the covers (see above) and the contents featured various other Hanna-Barbera characters of the time such as Augie Doggy...

...Loopy De Loop...

...Quick Draw McGraw...

...The Flinstones...

...and Yogi Bear... 

The strips seem mostly to be edited reprints from the American comics published by Gold Key, although I suspect some were brand new ones originated in the UK. 

Yogi Bear also had his own comic (actually called Yogi Bear's Own) which ran from 1962 to 1964 and then merged into Huckleberry Hound Weekly.

I suspect the fortunes of Huck's comic were not so good by the mid-sixties as by 1966 it had shrunk to traditional comic size and put its price up by a penny. Here's the covers to the issue dated April 23rd 1966. This is definitely a home grown strip, complete with British bobby in the final panel. I don't know who the artist is but it's somewhat rough around the edges and short on background detail...


The strips inside were of a similar reduced quality during this period...

By 1967 City were no longer publishing Huckleberry Hound Weekly and it had been taken over by Robert Hayward and Sons of Manchester. The comic returned to tabloid size but was no longer glossy. With Huck no longer as popular as he was, the covers now featured a jumble of character shots and copy in a bid to attract new readers. A huge 'TV' icon was added above the logo to grab the attention of the telly-obsessed generation. Any long standing fan of Huck would be disappointed by now though as some issues didn't actually feature a Huckleberry Hound story!

Adding some adventure to the lineup, Jonny Quest had been included. I presume these were reformatted from American comics...

Stars from new cartoon shows arrived, such as The Impossibles. (Although if I remember correctly, The Impossibles wasn't on TV in every region at the time.)


With the issue dated April 17th 1967, Space Ghost made his debut. Based on the Hanna-Barbera cartoon of course but I suspect the publisher was also trying to get the attention of the growing readership of superhero comics. (Fantastic and Terrific had launched around this time too.)

The Space Ghost strip bumped Yogi Bear from the centre pages. Notice anything odd about the strip? Yep, they made a hash of the colour, giving the scaly aliens pink skin and our heroes green skin! It looks like the printer transposed the red and blue overlays, but the mistake was repeated the following week so it seems deliberate.

At least they remembered to include a Huckleberry Hound strip that week, but sadly by now it was reprinting old covers. Several other pages seem to be reprints from a few years earlier too.

It won't surprise you to hear that the comic folded a few months later, which was a shame. Huckleberry Hound Weekly started out as a very nicely produced comic but after a few years the quality dropped considerably. Still, it managed to reach 308 issues in total which wasn't a bad run by any means.  
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