Sunday, 24 June 2012

WHAM! - A POWER PACK ANNUAL...



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 irrepressible KEN REID of
FUDGE THE ELF and FACEACHE fame. Strangely enough, although the
POW! Annuals featured reprinted MARVEL stories, the yearly Wham!
and SMASH! volumes didn't - relying instead purely 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 fellow wandering 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 re-
member). 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 had drawn. It was his annoyance at this
practice that later caused him to quit British weekly comics altogether.
The irony is, if publishers hadn't been able to defray 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've been 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 that 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. Some of
Ken's Faceache 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 Reid at his absolute best, so be sure to savour
every brushstroke and penline.
  



I'd love to see all of Ken Reid's Frankie Stein strips coloured-up
and released in a deluxe format book. Why someone hasn't done it yet is
beyond me. Perhaps STEVE HOLLAND (from BEAR ALLEY BOOKS)
would be the man for the job - if he thinks there's 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.

2 comments:

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.