Sunday, 24 June 2012


Here's a tasty treat from the past - some select pages from the
WHAM! ANNUAL for 1967 (issued at the end of '66) - including
a lovely three-page colour strip of FRANKIE STEIN, by the irre-
pressible KEN REID of FUDGE The ELF and FACEACHE fame.
Strangely enough, although the POW! Annuals featured reprinted
MARVEL stories, the Wham! and SMASH! volumes didn't -
relying instead on home-grown humour and adventure strips.

Look at the first picture on the bottom tier of the above page -
I believe that's ROBERT BARTHOLOMEW (otherwise known as
BART - although perhaps it's ALBERT COSSER) who was the editor
of Wham!.  It really is a good likeness, regardless of which of the two
gentlemen it is.  How do I know?  I occasionally saw this him around the
hallways of KING'S REACH TOWER when I was down in London, and
MARC JUNG (sub-editor of BUSTER) identified him (as either Bart or
Cos, can't quite remember).  Imagine my surprise when, a few years ago,
I was leafing through some old letters and found one from the late-'70s
from LOOK & LEARN (in response to an enquiry of mine), signed by
'Robert Bartholomew', the editor.  It hadn't clicked with me at the
time, but just think - I had the autograph of an editor from one of
the favourite comics of my youth and didn't even know it!

BIFF (below) later turned up in THUNDER as SAM, a fact
which LEO BAXENDALE wouldn't have been happy about as he
wasn't paid for the re-use of the ones he'd drawn.  It was his annoy-
ance at this that later caused him to quit U.K. comics altogether.  The
irony is, if publishers hadn't defrayed the cost of a title by reprinting a
limited number of old strips, they may not have been able to publish
the comic to begin with - or continue with it if circulation started to
fall.  Result - less work to go around for jobbing cartoonists.
(Or vastly reduced page-rates for everyone.)  Catch 22?

And now - the one you're all waiting for - FRANKIE STEIN
by Ken Reid - in colour.  Who says this blog doesn't deliver the
goods, eh?  Given the rather abrupt way the tale ends, I can't help
but feel it's a page short.  When I first read it, I turned over the last
page expecting it to continue on the following one - but nope, that's
all there was.  Ken's pages towards the end of his career lacked the
vitality and spontaneity of his earlier work, being somewhat stiff
and stilted - but here we have him at his absolute best, so be
sure to savour every brushstroke and penline.

I'd love to see all of Ken's Frankie Stein strips coloured-up
and released in a deluxe format book.  Why someone hasn't yet
done it is beyond me.  STEVE HOLLAND (of BEAR ALLEY
BOOKS) would be the man for the job - if he thought there
was an audience for it.  You'd think there would be, eh?


Like to see more from the 1967 Wham! Annual?
Well, don't be shy - say so in the comments section.


Anonymous said...

I vividly remember reading and re reading this annual (as a 6 year old) probably more than any other and pouring over the pictures which totally fascinated me (especially as at the time I was confined to my bed for 2 weeks with some childhood lurgie) - I particularly remember specific actual panels from this book, especially the Frankie Stein strip you published here , with Frankie holding his “piece” ( oeeer misses that’s his sandwich for non Scots) and the panel with him eating a mushroom / toadstool – in particular I remember the back page (which I think continued the story from the second page you show here) that had a picture of a group of kids in a waiting room and one kid had a “green hairy tongue” – strange how things stick with you - I never remembered where I saw those pictures ( I knew it was a comic or annual) until about 8 years ago when I came across and bought this annual . There was another Frankie strip in here though it’s not in colour – I agree it would be great to see the brilliant Ken Reid’s “Frankie Stein” strips collected as it’s probably my all time favourite (along with Leo Baxendale’s “Swots and the Blots!”) kids strip. McScotty

Kid said...

McScotty, the other Frankie strip you refer to has two-tone colour, but it doesn't do the strip any favours - especially on Frankie himself. Curiously, I only bought WHAM! weekly for about a year and a half before it was merged into POW!, but it seems much longer in memory. Ah, WHAM!, eh? I could go on and on about it - or more specifically, the things I associate from childhood with it.