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  1. #1
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    Default Cover Of The Day

    As you've probably noticed in the past, I love those old comic covers. Never mind the fact the Marvel UK thread is currently unfinished (I'll get back to it eventually!) here we go with another cover thread.

    It's a lot wider in scope this time, but at the rate of one a day. Not limited to the Marvel covers as the last one was, but this will be a wider look at the sheer variety of comics - and cult magazines - seen over the decades. All genres, random picks from sci-fi to superhero to humour to adventure, with the emphasis mostly on British and American titles. So you're just as likely to see a cover from The Beano as you are to see a cover from, say, Spider-Man here on this thread.

    To start us off, here's the cover of the debut issue of what is probably the most famous British comic of them all; introducing us to an iconic British sci-fi hero..from 1950 we have Vol.1 Issue 1 of...


  2. #2
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    On one hand that simply and magnificently sets up a comic legend.

    On the other hand, he's called Dan Dare, Pilot of The Future and someone else is flying a spaceship while he stays safely on Planet Earth with a cup of hot cocoa and his feet up by the telly while some other sucker has to go and face the alien threats and Mekon!
    Pity. I have no understanding of the word. It is not registered in my vocabulary bank. EXTERMINATE!

  3. #3
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    I love the Frank Hampson art in these early Dan Dare stories. Quality work, when compared to what was seen in other comics of the time, particularly the American comics of the period which seemed very primitive and basic in comparison.

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    Of course, Eagle wasn't a sci-fi comic by any means, it was more of a traditional British anthology comic with strips of various genres. Police, western, adventure, humour, historical, sci-fi....they were all there. PC 49, Riders Of The Range (a western series written by Charles Chilton, creator of BBC Radio's classic Journey Into Space serials), Luck Of The Legion and others, what made this title stand out was the attention paid to making this a quality publication. Eagle was not only designed to entertain it's readers, but to educate them as well...it had sports/news pages etc but the most memorable thing about it was the centrespread of each issue, which featured a cutaway of various things, ranging from jet airliners to fire engines to cruise ships, showing the inner workings.

    Moving on to todays cover...

    While Eagle is one of the most famous comics ever published, there have been many others which have been long forgotten by most people. That doesn't mean that they weren't any good, though! Todays is one such title; Krazy was a weekly humour comic published by IPC from 1976-1978, which produced an even more popular and longer-lasting spin-off, Cheeky Weekly. Krazy was an attempt to produce something different from the standard British humour comic of the time (Buster, Beano, etc) by giving us something more anarchic and outrageous. And often, genuinely very funny (at least to this 12-year old - I can remember laughing out loud at its zany humour on numerous occasions!

    Main characters included Cheeky and the Krazy Gang, superhero spoof Birdman and Chicken, Scaredy Cat (a cat who changed into various crazy things when he was scared), a hapless detective in Detective Fumbly's (Nut) Case Book, and the 12 1/2p Butonic Kid - a Six Million Dollar Man spoof.

    Anyway, todays cover is that of issue 9 from 1976, which features the introduction of Birdman and Chicken who in this issue have to face their arch-enemy, the Giggler. Also in this issue, a Krazy Look At TV in which we see the real problems that John Steed faced when using his umbrella to fend off villains...


  5. #5
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    Birdman & Chicken joined Buster in about 1989! Always wondered where they came from! Presumably certain comics merged at various points and they made their way there.

    Si.

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    I didn't realise the characters lasted so long, Si! I'd always thought they'd just disappeared and been forgotten about after Krazy was cancelled.

    Todays cover is a Doctor Who one. I'll come back to the Doctor a few times in this thread, but today we have the Doctor's first ever comic cover appearance, from 1966. In his own title, as well! Not even in a British comic, but one from American comic publisher Dell which was released in December 1966...Strictly speaking, it's Doctor Who's first cover appearance rather than the Doctor's, seeing as this is a comic adaptation of the first Peter Cushing Dalek film. While the Doctor had a regular strip in the UK in TV Comic at the time, he didn't actually make a cover appearance until the second Doctor got a run of them in 1967. More on that another time, though!

    This is certainly worth checking out though, for anyone with an interest in Doctor Who comic strips. It has decent enough art by Dick Giordano, later a regular DC and Marvel comics artist, who drew it without actually seeing the film. And it's most notable possibly for it's depiction of a green TARDIS throughout! It's certainly a novelty if nothing else, and a pretty rare one at that!

    A more in-depth look at the issue can be found here


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    It's really late so I'll keep this short, but I'm really enjoying these Kenny, and will comment more soon.

    In the mean time, if you don't mind me doing this just this once, I'll sneak in one of my favourites:



    I bought a few of these old romance comics a couple of months ago in a charity shop and they're immensely fun and quite charming, with the kind of tales you just don't get in comics anymore. One thing I was quite surprised (and pleased) by was how strong the central female characters were, too, and not just damsels in distress needing to be rescued all the time (er, apart from in the above issue!).
    "RIP Henchman No.24."

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    No problem, Alex! Just because I'm only doing one a day doesn't mean that no-one else can chip in as well, if they wish! The whole idea of this thread is to highlight the sheer variety of comics, types of comics, which were once widely available and popular. Kids are really missing out on something special these days with the lack of comics widely available cheaply in newsagents.

    And what a great cover it is, too! You're totally right of course about how comics such as these are rather charming in their own right. It's hard to believe these days, where comics seem to be mostly American superheroes or licensed products (with a minimal traditional UK presence in the marketplace with 2000AD and Beano) that there were once about as many comics aimed at girls as there were for boys. So you beat me to the punch with that cover (not that particular one admittedly, but certainly of that Romance type) and look for more girls (UK-style) comics coming soon as well.

    Superheroes and Beano coming soon too, but todays cover is an early(-ish) cover from 2000AD. Issue 72 (sorry, Prog 72!) from 1978; one of the infamous Burger War issues which have been banned from ever being reprinted in case of copyright infringement. MacDonalds and Burger King are at war, literally fighting for customers. The names are clearly spelt, not just alluded to, and the company logos are clearly seen. Not to mention the fact that the leader of the MacDonald clan is called Ronald MacDonald...it's amazing what they could get away with in those days which wouldn't even be considered nowadays!


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    What a great idea for a thread, Mac!

    Just 'catching-up', I was obviously too young to have collected Eagle first time around (although my Dad used to get it) but I did start getting it when it was relaunched in about 1982. At some point they did a 'miniaturised' reprint of that first issue from 1950, so I have fond memories of that cover. My brother used to have (I don't think he still has) a huge book all about Frank Hampson, which was not just a fascinating tale but also included some stunning artwork of his. Extraordinary talent.

    And Krazy! My goodness, I'd almost begun to think I'd imagined it, I used to occasionally pick it up from WH Smiths in Carlisle. Not as early as 1976, but I certainly remember Birdman & Chicken.

    And 2000AD - again, a little bit before my time that one, I started with Prog 117?118? with Roger 'Moonraker' Moore on the cover, but those early days (up to the late 80s maybe) were just extraordinarily good (as of course we all agreed on another thread I believe!).

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    That 2000AD cover has always been one of my favourites, it was originally before my time but I bought a whole load of back issues from my Sister's mate after becoming addicted to the comic. It's genuinely quite disturbing, yet bizarrely funny at the same time, if they still produced covers like that (and strips of that quality) I might still dip in to it from time to time. Though I did read a whole bunch of issues from about 2009 last year, and it was okay. But most of the time I enjoyed Dredd, one or two other strips, but found the rest disappointing.
    "RIP Henchman No.24."

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    On to superheroes today...not an original US cover yet (although some will come soon) this is a British reprint cover from 1969.



    When British comics and superheroes are mentioned together, it's generally Marvel characters who are thought of simply because, over the years, they have generally had a much stronger presence in the UK market than DC has. DC has sporadically attempted to break the British market several times over the years, but never with quite the same level of success as their competition. Here, we have an early example of the largely-forgotten monthly Super DC title, which ran from 1969-1970. It was a 40-page, larger-sized publication than what we're used to seeing today (similar size to the likes of The Eagle, Pow!, Topper, Beezer etc for the benefit of anyone who remembers, or has seen, actual comics of the period) which meant that the reprinted artwork had to be cut up and adjusted to fit the larger page size. Contents of this issue included b&w reprints of DC comic strips such as Superman, Batman, Lois Lane, Superboy and Jimmy Olsen alongside new text stories featuring Superman and Batman; a 'Direct Currents' text page, supposedly showcasing the reporting skills of Jimmy Olsen reporting on Micheal Caine, Richard Harris and Tom Jones; a letters page, a Doctor Who and the Cybermen centrespread, the usual competitions and a sports page (Great Moments In Sport) largely focussing on Formula 1 hero, Graham Hill. Below is an example of how they adjusted the artwork to fit the larger page size, allowing for plenty of content to be squeezed into it's 40 big pages.




  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Curnow View Post
    What a great idea for a thread, Mac!

    Just 'catching-up', I was obviously too young to have collected Eagle first time around (although my Dad used to get it) but I did start getting it when it was relaunched in about 1982. At some point they did a 'miniaturised' reprint of that first issue from 1950, so I have fond memories of that cover. My brother used to have (I don't think he still has) a huge book all about Frank Hampson, which was not just a fascinating tale but also included some stunning artwork of his. Extraordinary talent.

    And Krazy! My goodness, I'd almost begun to think I'd imagined it, I used to occasionally pick it up from WH Smiths in Carlisle. Not as early as 1976, but I certainly remember Birdman & Chicken.

    And 2000AD - again, a little bit before my time that one, I started with Prog 117?118? with Roger 'Moonraker' Moore on the cover, but those early days (up to the late 80s maybe) were just extraordinarily good (as of course we all agreed on another thread I believe!).
    I have to agree with everything you said, Andrew. Frank Hampson was an amazing talent, wasn't he? He's certainly one of the in dustry's all-time greats. Like you say, much of his artwork is simply stunning. All the more so when you consider the standards of the time.

    2000AD...you probably started reading it around the time I stopped...not that I dislike it or anything, but it just gradually faded out of my life because I simply didn't have enough pocket money to buy everything! But those early years certainly remain firm favourites of mine.

    And Krazy...I'm glad to see that someone else actually remembers this! I really loved it as a kid and was disappointed when it was cancelled, although the annuals continued for several years

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    this is a British reprint cover from 1969.
    I love these covers that make the Superheroes look like a nasty bunch of thugs about to beat the crap out of some innocent people for no good reason. The very first Superman cover shows the Man himself harrassing some guys by picking their car up and throwing it. Here we see Batman, Superman and Robin teaming up to super-smash the faces of their fan club.

    Yeah and the 2000AD one is great - but what do you expect?
    Pity. I have no understanding of the word. It is not registered in my vocabulary bank. EXTERMINATE!

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    And Krazy...I'm glad to see that someone else actually remembers this!
    I also used to get a comic called 'Cheeky Weekly' whose main 'character' was Cheeky (a bit like Dennis the Menace but with less hair & more teeth) - was he a spin-off from a strip in Krazy? I have a vague memory that he came out of another comic but I'm not sure.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Curnow View Post
    I also used to get a comic called 'Cheeky Weekly' whose main 'character' was Cheeky (a bit like Dennis the Menace but with less hair & more teeth) - was he a spin-off from a strip in Krazy? I have a vague memory that he came out of another comic but I'm not sure.
    You're quite right, Andrew...Cheeky got his own spin-off comic which I'll take a look at in a week or two. It had an unusual format, particularly for a British weekly humour comic of the time. I'll come back to it, though...I'm trying to vary what sorts of covers I'm picking at the moment so that I'm not bunching too many similar titles together.

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    Today, I'll look at one of the longest-running comics in British history. And a childhood favourite of Si Hunts, although today's cover is a bit before his time (and mine for that matter!)

    Yes, today's cover is the very first issue of Buster, published in 1960. The final issue appeared in January 2000, so this almost had a 40-year run. The frequency changed fro weekly to fortnightly in the latter years though, as sales dropped. And while Buster ended its life as a humour comic, it actually only ended up that way after IPC bought it from Fleetway, and IPC had a policy of having all the same sort of strips in each title, rather than having a mix. ie 2000AD - all sci-fi, Action - the title speaks for itself, Battle - all war stories, etc. Buster, however, began in an era when comics all had a variety of strips covering differing genres from humour to adventure.




    The character of Buster was originally presented as the son of (newspaper cartoon strip character) Andy Capp, although this tagline was dropped after a few issues. Andy actually made a few appearances in the strip in the early days, and Buster's wife was drawn to look just like Andy's wife, Flo. Other strips to appear in the title (far too many to list them all!) included Sweet Tooth, X-Ray Specs, and Lazy Bones. It wouldn't surprise me these days if some of the strips would meet with disapproval from the PC Brigade, if being published for the first time...some people just don't have a sense of humour and take things far too seriously...and back then there was simply a different outlook on life then from what we have today; today they're too afraid that they'll offend someone rather than just tell funny stories. X-Ray Specs, for example. Who, when they were kids, didn't imagine what fun it be to own a pair of them - just imagine the things you could have seen with them...the mind boggles! A perfect idea for a comic strip...but no doubt someone would find this unsuitable for a modern audience...Characters like Sweet Tooth and Lazy Bones were just caricatures, weren't they? Just exaggerations of what some people could be like, and the caricatures being regularly put into some sort of ridiculous situation; however nowadays, instead of being recognised simply for what they were, they'd be made out as being bad influences on kids, encouraging them to eat loads of sweets or to be lazy. This sort of thinking also stifles creativity, imo.


    Quote Originally Posted by Si Hunt View Post
    Birdman & Chicken joined Buster in about 1989! Always wondered where they came from! Presumably certain comics merged at various points and they made their way there.

    Si.
    As was common practice in the world of British comics, Si, when sales dropped on titles they were generally merged into other titles to save on costs and before it finally disappeared, Buster had it's fair share of mergers over the years. Such as:

    Radio Fun (25/2/1961) - which itself had merged with The Wonder.

    Film Fun (15/9/1962) - which itself had merged with Picture Fun, Kinema Comic, Film Picture Stories, Illustrated Chips and Top Spot.

    The Big One (27/2/1965)

    Giggle (20/1/1968)

    Jet (2/10/1971)

    Cor!! (22/6/1974)

    Monster Fun (6/11/1976)

    Jackpot (30/1/1982)

    School Fun (2/6/1984)

    Nipper (01/09/87)

    Oink! (22/10/1988)

    Whizzer and Chips (7/10/1990) - which itself had previously absorbed
    Whoopee! (which itself had merged with Wow!, Cheeky and Shiver and Shake), Krazy, Scouse Mouse and Knockout

    So Birdman and Chicken arrived in Buster from Krazy via Whizzer & Chips!

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    It is amazing to think back and see which comics had lineups which were as much made up from other titles' greatest hits as ones the'd created for themselves. When you consider how long the likes of Dan Dare, Strontium Dog, the Numskulls and Bananaman have lasted thanks at least in part to mergers.

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    Buster, Whoopee, Topper, Whizzer & Chips - absolutely great days!

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    All of these, and others, will be making an appearance here in due course, Andrew.

    But today, we'll head back across the Atlantic, and back another decade. In America, the 1950s was almost a superhero-free decade where only Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman had any degree of continued success. Of course the Silver Age Of Comics was just around the corner, but in the meantime other sorts of comics had to fill the gap. Such as horror...

    EC was one of the most famous publishers of the 1950s, with wide variety of titles from war to detective to pirate stories, but they're best remembered for their horror series such as...


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    I don't think he's going to get out of that one!
    Pity. I have no understanding of the word. It is not registered in my vocabulary bank. EXTERMINATE!

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    Now we know why Igor's barber shop didn't last...

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    I never collected the US comic books, even as a kid, mainly because none of our shops ever seemed to stock them regularly - they just seemed to get random issues of random titles at random times. So I got one issue of She-Hulk, and another of Iron Man, etc. But I used to really love the covers in particular, the best ones always 'jumped off the shelf' at you.... Just like the above one, Mac - which I'm sure Mary Whitehouse would have very much disapproved of!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Curnow View Post
    I never collected the US comic books, even as a kid, mainly because none of our shops ever seemed to stock them regularly - they just seemed to get random issues of random titles at random times. So I got one issue of She-Hulk, and another of Iron Man, etc. But I used to really love the covers in particular, the best ones always 'jumped off the shelf' at you.... Just like the above one, Mac - which I'm sure Mary Whitehouse would have very much disapproved of!!
    It was the same round here for ages, Andrew. For that reason, although American comics will feature on this thread but the emphasis will be on British ones. And the chances are that no-one will remember buying/seeing any of the covers which will appear, but there are simply too many great ones to ignore them all. Those that appear will either have a historical significance (ie, old!), or else I just plain like them! For most of the 1970s when I was reading comics it was only random issues which were available round here too. Distribution of them really improved around 1980 for both Marvel & DC, I suppose that was a side-effect of Dez Skinn's Marvel UK Revolution which was aimed at turning round the ailing fortunes of Marvel's UK arm. Many long-time readers soon got bored with the new look and increasingly turned to the American original editions, allowing Marvel UK to reprint for a second time those 1960s/early 70s classics for a new audience. Just as well, because they had practically ran out of strips to reprint at any rate!

    Speaking of Marvel UK, I think it's about time I featured a cover from them. Anyone remember this little title from 1978, based on some sci-fi film that may just have been a bit of a hit at the time...


    Star Wars Weekly initially reprinted Roy Thomas & Howard Chaykin's adaptation of the movie over the first 12 issues before moving on to original stories. With it's glossy covers and b&w interior, this was just the same design as Marvel's othe weekly output, but with a smaller page count (28 pages). It only featured two comics strips to begin with, the back-up being Tales Of The Galaxy which reprinted strips from Marvel US Sci-Fi magazine, Strange Worlds Of Science Fiction. The remainder was filled with behind-the-scenes articles about the film.

    Looking at this first issue, this advert (below) makes me really appreciate the advances in DVD and Blu-Ray technology, which allows us to so easily own a library of films nowadays. Just see what was available for home viewing in 1977 and then factor in inflation....


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    I have that very comic upstairs... along with about 150+ of its successors.

    I think I started getting the old Star Wars Weekly with issue 4 or 5 - I remember getting my collection completed by getting the above issue 1 plus issues 2 & 3, for my birthday in about 1979. My Mum said she thought it would be very boring to get comics for your birthday - maybe it's a boy thing!!

    One thing that I find quite interesting about the comic adaptation of Star Wars, is that it's pretty clear that most of it was done without much (if any!) reference from the film itself. Hence the likenesses on issue 1 I guess - Luke's OK (if a bit scowly) but Leia & Death don't look right at all.

    The other thing that sticks in my mind is some of the covers for the first 12 issues (that is, the ones that featured the film adaptation). I guess, thinking about it, some of the covers were based on the US originals - but if they had 3 or 4 monthly issues, against our 12 weeklies, I suppose the UK branch had to knock up some others. From memory, the Cantina cover makes it look like a football riot rather than the momentary skirmish in the film; and the one that really sticks in my mind is for issue 9 or 10, where they arrive on Yavin. The cover is of the leads all looking terrified (I think) with a caption along the lines of "Entering the Terrifying Hidden Fortress" (or something equally lurid).

    Sorry, I'll shut up now!

    The 'Cover of the Day' is rapidly becoming one of the online highlights of the day, I'm loving the randomness of Mac's selection!!

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    I never had any of the comics withe the actual film story in, so I must have started get it a lot later (and no longer have any). The story (and cover) I remember the most was Han and Chewwy forced to take part in some gladitorial fight to the death, and Chewwy shooting Han !!

    I stopped getting SW when another Marvel publication started the following year.....
    Bazinga !

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