fantastic and terrific 1I am beginning the second part of this piece about my comic collection by randomly opening some boxes of comics.Apart from what I would call my 1960’s  “Core” Marvel Comics, there are many other almost -forgotten surprises.  First up is a selection  of 1960’s UK “Power Comics”. These comics were a natural continuation brought to life by the  success that “Wham” , “Smash” and “Pow” had become when they began reprinting the entire line of  American Marvel Comics in the UK and Ireland.Before that happened , for those of us who had  discovered the relatively rare American Marvel Comics ,  they had been treated as something of an underground cult.Mostly they would arrive here with the American “cents” price or sometimes with the specially printed “pence” price from America.For some reason the issues with the “cents” price were considered more collectable or more worthy , even though they ran off the very same presses with just that one change on the covers. That is still reflected in collectors’ circles to this day , with the virtually identical issue in the same condition fetching entirely different values.

The original Power Comics  were presented much like traditional UK Comics like “the Valiant” or “the Lion”, but these newer and later Power Comics attempted a look something akin to their original American  presentation. They were slightly bigger than the originals and the paper was of a different grade than was usually used for UK comics.It was probably a better grade because many early marvels were printed on very poor paper.. The covers , for the most part, attempted to  copy the original cover artwork of the American comics but the inside artwork was presented in black and white. Sometimes the colouring was a little “off”,  production artists getting colours  slightly wrong. Readers would notice things  like that and complain.They were good value ,for all of that,  because they carried a higher page count and a greater variety of stories, mixing together several characters from their original American titles.They stretched the original monthly story-lines on a weekly basis ,sometimes supplementing the original artwork with  re-drawn panels , original strips and pin-ups to fill up the spaces.They also made some attempts to emulate Stan Lee’s “Bullpen” promotional style. In essence , these were very good reprints and were probably the way a lot of readers first came upon the Marvel characters.I found them handy for filling in missing back issues for a time before I lost interest .The two titles featured here are “Fantastic” and “Terrific” and at the time  when they started ,they seemed to have an unlimited back -catalogue  to sustain the titles .

These were an excellent place to find older Marvel titles featuring Iron Man and the X-Men in stories that had long-since disappeared from the local newsagents.Back then there was nowhere to find these titles anywhere except possibly stumbling on them in the dusty corner of  some old second-hand bookshop or in a jumble sale.fantastic 1

Later ,Marvel had yet another wind behind their sails in the UK and Ireland with their very own Marvel UK imprint. These began about a decade later when  the Power Comics  had expired and had a similar policy of reprinting Marvel  Comics . They had even better production values but similarly used colour cover artwork with black and white inside work. They experimented with a variety of presentation, later bringing out an oblong {sideways} series of comics which attempted to print the original work, two pages side-by-side. The much  -reduced artwork wasn’t wholly successful but it was certainly an attempt to increase the amount of strips carried.Below  are a set of “the Avengers” comic which reprinted  the strip alongside the likes of the comic “Master of Kung Fu” which was successfully  riding the waves of the Kung Fu  cult in popular culture at that time.These Avengers stories  were  early essays on the original group that had been re-configured minus Iron Man and the Incredible Hulk. They featured Ant Man who in no short order had become Giant Man and then , with one mighty bound….Goliath…also adding Hawkeye and the brother and sister act Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch to original Avenger , Captain America.avengers uk 1

avengers uk 2

The next  box I opened contained a few more surprises .These are three issues of a typical 1950’s comic called “Adventure”, which had been a running  UK title since September  1921,  plus a lone issue of an equally long-running comic called “Film Fun”  dated May 1948 , which finally expired in 1962… this one’s cover stars are Laurel and Hardy…. and two special “Christmas ” issues of “Knockout” comic. Christmas issues were always seen as special comics and usually had snow-topped wintery lettering on the title.

adventure film fun knockout

Below are some more “Knockout” comics from 1960, just at the point where Billy Bunter was taking over the strip Billy would have gained much popularity through the television series and range of paperback books that were appearing around this time  reprinting the very popular school  tales from “the Magnet” . I can just imagine the shock when the publishers raised the price from 4 1/2 old pence to that whopping 5 pence !!knockout 1


Up next are a set of the “Vulcan” comic from 1975 and 1976. These reprinted stories such as “Mytek the Mighty”, “Kelly’s Eye” and “the  Steel Claw”. They were nicely drawn black and white strips with a sci-fi  or supernatural motif.Artists such as Jesus Blasco supplied beautifully rendered storytelling for the likes of “the Steel Claw ” back in 1962 for comics such as “Valiant”. “Vulcan” was an attempt to reprint  some of these great strips in a more “American”- looking publication and reintroduce these strips to  a new audience which had been weaned on the glossy- covered  Marvel reprints .  

I have many issues of 1960’s Valiant in my collection but only a handful of it’s sibling comic, Hurricane. I do have an excellent run of the Hurricane  hardback  1960’s Annuals and this  scuffed but  near-complete first summer special , priced at two shillings and sixpence. It’s much the same with the TV themed “TV Tornado comic.tv tornado hurricane valiant plus summer special

Next up is a selection of annuals .These came out every Christmas .The odd  oblong hardbacked “Topper”  annuals are from the 1950’s. They were the same shape as the Beano or the Dandy annuals but in the uniquely “long”, short-spine  format which was also reserved for annuals like the Dandy’s “Black Bob”. There were fewer pages in the Topper annuals  than the Beano but the compensation was that they featured full-loaded colour in many of the strips.The Lion” annual comes from 1967 and was the Christmas issue for the comic of the same name . I have several more examples of the lion and it featured some beautiful artwork too, especially in their painted covers..The “Dandy” annuals are from the 1950’s as is the oddment softbacked “Slick Fun” which was produced by Gerald G Swan.topper dandy lion slick fun annuals

The Buffalo Bill  Annual set reflected the  huge 1950’s interest in the “Western” genre.All things cowboy or Wild West caught the popular imagination and films , television series and comics  all  rode on that bandwagon for many years. The “Buffalo Bill ” annual was particularly well put together  and featured work mostly by Denis McLoughlin. . The first one is dated 1949 and was possibly on sale for Christmas 1950.  I’ve included a selection of inner pages to give some idea of the  detailed contents and the  detail applied to even the back cover McLoughlin  painted the covers  and some inner colour plates and did much of the interior designs and linework. He was a well-respected illustrator across many genres, with a very distinctive style and worked in all manner of illustration . The following photos are not double issues which  I’m showing … just two photos of the same set with an interior frontpiece and full-page painting. .Annuals featured are 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1955, 1957,  1959, 1961. The final annual appeared on the following year and was the end of an excellent run. 

buffalo bill annuals 1

buffalo bill annuals 2

As mentioned earlier , here are some of my Hurricane and Valiant annuals from the 1960’s.hurricane valiant annuals 1960s

I didn’t discover EC comics in the 1950’s. I was too young and  had no idea about the infamy  of their horror titles and the witchunt of Wertham’s “Seduction of the Innocent “.I was then unaware of   the profoundly great artwork  by the likes of Jack Davis, Wally Wood, Frank Frazetta , Graham ingels, Al Williamson and all the rest.I was able to catch up years later when a programme of reprinting was begun in the early 1970’s  , but in the early 1960’s EC’s surviving “Mad” magazine began to make inroads and the  small “Signet” paperbacks reprinted much of the 1950’s “Mad” magazine content. Below is the first UK issue of the magazine , priced at one shilling and sixpence alongside a few special issues.mad 1 plus specials

The “Mad” paperbacks were in another box….These were avidly searched for in second-hand bookshops and “jumble” sales in the early 1960’s.The Don Martin pantomime strips were especially excellent.mad paperbacks

A few examples of more “worthy” comics that prided themselves on their educational thrust. 2Ranger” and “Look and Learn”ranger look and learn

Some more “Fantastic Four” issues from just before Jack Kirby left the Marvel Comics fold after practically inventing the entire line. After that the copyists followed. There’s also  a stray issue of the reprint “Fantasy Masterpieces”  compilation title featuring some 1940’s stories with Captain America , the {original} Human Torch and Prince Namor , the Sub Mariner, all characters later revived in the Marvel line in the 1960’s.fantastic four plus fantasy masterpieces

Finally for this page , the complete four issues of the pro-fanzine “Inside comics” from the early 1970’s .As far as fanzines and pro-zines go , this is really only the very tip of my fanzine iceberg, which I’ll deal with at another time. There are very many . That first “Inside Comics” featured an early Robert Crumb interview and seems to be attracting some very high prices at the moment.inside comics

Links to other pages from this specific series from here https://paddykool2.wordpress.com/the-comics-from-the-past/






  1. captainocd says:

    Lovely to see all these, Paddy!
    John Pitt.

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