April 1, 2017
Congratulations to D.C Thompson for soldiering on (get it?) with “Commando” and reaching the mind-boggling issue number 5000. With eight issues published each month it’s hard to keep up (although I’m unsure how many issues contain new content and how many are reprints each month). “Commando” began in 1961 and must be one of the last (comic strip) pocket-books still standing. In the 1950s to 1970s there were hundreds of titles and thousands of issues of these 7″ x 5″ booklets produced by Fleetway and numerous smaller companies such as Top Sellers as well as D.C Thompson.
Air Ace, Battle Picture Library, Batman, Beano, Bunty, Buster, Chiller, Combat, Cowboy, Dandy, Eagle, Judy, Lion, School Friend, Secret Service, Starblazer, Superman, Super Detective, Thriller, Top Secret, Valiant, War, War at Sea, Whizzer and Chips to name but a few.
PS: Circa 1964-1965 Fleetway experimented with these weirdly shaped 14″ x 5″ Picture Libraries.
April 1, 2017
The DC Thompson character “Invisible Dick” first appeared almost one hundred years ago in text stories beginning in 1922 within the first few issues of “The Rover” and later in “The Dandy”.
By the 1960s the stories were two page strips appearing mostly in “Sparky” comic (The comic for Boys and Girls!). Initially he used a jar of invisible liquid given to him by a sailor (?). The origin of the character changed over the decades. The 1960s version of Invisible Dick that I recall had a “magic” torch. This torch had been taken from a space ship by his astronaut father (?). Presumably cosmic rays in space had transformed the torch’s beam from light to black (?). Everything the beam touched became invisible (for a while) with the usual “hilarious” consequences.
A few years ago Obscure Reference Comics brought out a single issue which updated the character for the C21st.
April 1, 2017
Due to planet-wide amnesia everyone has forgotten that the Marvel Superhero age of comics began with The Sentry a few years before the far more famous Fantastic Four No 1 appeared. Startling Stories comics just don’t seem to be available or be featured in Overstreet. And when I have found a copy they have been remarkably cheap considering their rarity.
The Sentry has the power of a million exploding suns and an evil alter-ego yet has appeared in some of the most far-fetched stories since 1940s Captain Marvel/1950s Marvelman/early 1960s Superman Imaginary Stories.
How did Marvel comics manage to call this hero “The Sentry” when Innovation comics had a character of the same name years before?
How did Marvel comics manage to call their comics “Startling Stories” when there had been a pulp magazine of the same name for decades?
March 1, 2017
A few days ago I awoke with an image of the cover of “Superman’s Girlfriend Lois Lane” No 50 in my mind even though I probably haven’t owned a copy since 1973! Memory seems to work along similar lines to a tape recorder. The majority of mundane memories get overwritten by new ones. However, with important/traumatic happenings in your life the brain must put a “do not delete” marker so that you can forever recall them for good or bad. Yet some mundane memories of various days have stayed with me with startling clarity. These memories haven’t been overwritten and I can still vividly picture the scenes after many decades whilst more recent events are forgotten.
For example I still recall random events that took place on a holiday in 1965, although I can’t recall the resort. In the 1960s family summer holidays were usually a week at the coast in a static caravan. For some reason in 1965 the accommodation was at a boarding house/small hotel. As we arrived at the hotel I noticed a shop further down the road with a comic spinner rack outside amidst the usual seaside sales tat. It didn’t take long before I’d blagged a two shilling coin from my father and set off to investigate. The comics on the spinner were an immediate disappointment. No superheroes at all. Some of the comics looked quite tatty as if they’d been there for years exposed to the salt air. Apart from a few Dell comics featuring long-forgotten western heroes, the rest were all GIRLS comics. I picked up a DC love comic and checked the small print on page three. It said 1963!! Still I went carefully through all the comics until I found two Lois Lane comics. Hooray! They weren’t too girly for me. They had Superman on the cover!
Inside the shop I proffered my two shillings and was surprised to get a shilling change. I was expecting to be charged 10d for each comic. I still had funds for two more comics! I carefully went through all the comics on the spinner rack once more. I found a Dobie Gillis comic. I assumed Dobie was a girl’s name (and I didn’t notice the full title was “The many loves of Dobie Gillis”) but the cover showing a spaceship looked interesting. Then finally I noticed a lone Patsy and Hedy comic amongst all the DCs. This really did look far too girly for me but it surprisingly had a Marvel comics logo top left so why not take a chance if it was only 6d? I was quite pleased to have added four more issues to my small but growing collection of “American” comics for the princely sum of two shillings.
I can even recall the four issues I bought that day. In fact I still own that Lois Lane number 54 fifty two years later.
It’s funny what things stick in your mind. I still can’t recall the resort but I vividly remember the next day of the holiday when right by the beach I found a kiosk selling icecreams etc and ALAN CLASS COMICS. I’d never seen these before but immediately realised they contained black and white reprints of REALLY OLD comics. Over the course of the week I purchased at least half a dozen which were read cover-to-cover sitting in a deckchair during one of those perfect summer days that only existed when you were young.
December 1, 2016
Perhaps you recall the popular musical combo known as “The Rolling Stones”. They had a couple of hit platters back in the day. Do you know how they came to acquire their name?
There are three theories about this. Some say they got their name after seeing an American music magazine called “Rolling Stone”. Others claim they took their name from the Robert Zimmerman tune “Like a rolling stone”. After many hours of research I have discovered the true answer.
Founder member Brian Jones had a younger brother who regularly purchased the comic “”Swift”. This was a companion comic to, and aimed at a slightly younger readership than, the “Eagle”. One day in 1962 Brian flicked through an old copy of this comic and noticed page eight. The rest, as they say, is history…as is the late Mr Jones.
November 1, 2016
I don’t know why it says “Published monthly” in the small print of issues of “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina”. It’s taken almost two years for them to publish six issues. Number 1 was cover dated December 2014. Then we had 2 June 2015, 3 July 2015, 4 September 2015 with another massive gap before number 5 dated July 2016 and number 6 September 2016. I used to like my comics weekly! There’s no wonder more people these days pass on the floppy comics and wait until a trade paperback book collecting six issues is available.