Tuesday, 6 January 2015

BUSTER BITES THE DUST...


The cover reminds me of myself when my old schools were demolished

BUSTER comic made it just over halfway into its 40th year be-
fore being cancelled, but truth to tell, it had been ailing for some time.
Featuring mainly reprints, published fortnightly, and with no continued
adventure strips to entice the readers back each issue, it's surprising
that it wasn't cancelled sooner.  (It obviously must've been making
a small profit, or at least not losing money) 

Long-time editor ALLEN CUMMINGS did his best, but he
was hampered by a next-to-nothing budget which reflected a lack
of investment by the publishers, EGMONT, in the title's future (to
say nothing of a lack of interest on the part of readers), so the comic's
 demise was virtually inevitable.  He only learned of plans for cancel-
lation 'though, when he returned from holiday to find an email
informing him of the publication's impending fate.

He soldiered on like a trouper, but in the final dark days of
December 1999, the last ish of what had once been one of Britain's
finest and most popular comic weeklies hit the newsagents' shelves
and breathed its last.  I was happy to see a reprint of a strip which I'd
lettered, thereby ensuring my presence in the very last issue, but
it was a small consolation in the face of Buster's disappearance
after an almost 40 year span. 

Surprisingly, it announced the fact that it was the last issue on
its cover, but maybe that's because there were no other survivors
to be merged into.  Top marks must go to the very last page, in which
a tongue-in-cheek send-up of regular characters made some startling
revelations.  They should obviously be regarded as 'imaginary' scen-
arios, as the characters will live on forever in our memories just
as we knew them, and will never die (or burst).

Did you buy Buster?  Any recollections of the comic and
the times in which you purchased it will be most welcome to
fellow Criv-ites, I'm sure.  

I'd lettered this strip some years before - perhaps for NIPPER

"What if?" - BUSTER style

13 comments:

John Pitt said...

My Buster days were in the early 60's. I suspect that by the final issue there would have been very few of those original strips in it, with all those titles it absorbed over the years.

Mr Straightman said...

I used to buy Buster every week when Tom Paterson was doing the covers, Oink! had become a real yawn by that time (or it may even have been cancelled?) and I thought there was more genuine joy and invention in a single Paterson panel than there was in an entire copy of Oink!

Kid said...

Well, JP, Charlie Peace and Fishboy were long gone (as was Rent-a-Ghost), but at least Buster lasted the course. (He had to, right enough - the comic bore his name, after all.)

******

I always loved Tom Paterson's imitation Baxendale style, but I wasn't so keen on his own style, Lee. Bob Paynter (IPC Humour Group Editor) admitted not long after the change that it might have been a mistake replacing Reg Parlett as the difference between his style and Paterson's was a bit too drastic. Never liked Oink at all, to be honest.

Colin Jones said...

That's a really sad cover but how is it only No.130 ? I think a final issue should make a big deal of the fact that it's the last one. There was a magazine I used to buy called DVD & Blu-Ray Review which closed about 3 years ago but the final issue made no mention on the cover that it was the last one which irked me somewhat. On a similar note when Sue Lawley presented her final Desert Island Discs a few years ago she didn't even say goodbye and thank-you to the listeners or even mention it was her final show which was just rude in my opinion.

Paul McScotty -Muir said...

I used to get Buster most weeks from the mid 60s to about 1972 (not long after it merged with Jet) and always liked it, but by 1972 US comics and Marvel UK had my complete attention a but it was always a comic I looked forward to reading as a kid and it had some really amazing art and stories in the early days - I loved the humour / adventure mix and always felt it was a mistake to go all humour - strips I particularly remember were Leo Baxendales "Mervyn's Monsters", "Mickeys Marvelous Multigun" (great art by Carlo Cruz I think) and "Galaxus" (and so many others) - I recall picking up a few of the latter issues (including the last issue) they were all very nicely published in colour with some nice artwork so I was surprised when I heard it was to end but looking back the writing was on the wall.

B Smith said...

Never saw Buster at the newsagents, the only copies I had were a small pile I picked up at a fete around 1973...loved the "Zarga - Man Of Mystery" strip, the first time I ever encountered Joe Colquhoun's work.

Come to think of it, it was the first time I also saw artwork by Solano Lopez, Bradbury and several others...there wasn't really a dud strip, though for some reason it didn't inspire to race down to the newsagent to find more (being a complete Marvel fanatic by then may have had something to do with it)

Kid said...

The comic was renumbered at some stage, CJ, probably when it went fornightly I'd imagine. Maybe Sue Lawley didn't know at the time that it was her final show, perhaps thinking her contract would be renewed when the time came to do another series?

******

I think I only started buying Buster regularly once Jet was merged with it, McScotty, as I had being buying the latter from when it had first came out. Like you, once U.K. Marvel comics came out, my attention was diverted from other weekly comics, except for new #1s (Shiver & Shake, Monster Fun, etc). I do remember buying an issue in 1973 or '74 when I was on Holiday in Blackpool.

******

Like McScotty says, BS, it was a mistake to go all-humour - especially when the comic had adventure strips featuring the work of such great artists. I wonder if it was a financial decision based on humour strips being cheaper to commission than adventure strips?

Colin Jones said...

Kid, Sue Lawley had announced in advance that she was leaving the show - I suppose it's possible she recorded a batch of programmes and didn't know which one would be the final one to be broadcast but if I was leaving Desert Island Discs after 18 years I'd make sure I was able to say goodbye properly !!

Kid said...

Ah, but was it a case of her announcing it after her last series had been recorded, but in advance of it being broadcast? Even if not, it's probably because the show is meant to be more about the guests than the presenter.

Colin Jones said...

Kid, you've got me all confused now. Anyway, whether it's a radio presenter or a comic I like a proper goodbye to tie things up. In February 2004 Alastair Cooke's 'Letter From America' ended after being broadcast since 1949 - he had planned to announce his retirement during his final programme but somebody in the BBC leaked it to the press and in a huff Cooke refused to record a final edition of the show which was just petty - he died only a month later (aged 95) and I thought it was a real shame that he didn't say farewell to give a proper send-off to a programme which had been on air for over 50 years.

Kid said...

I used to listen to that show regularly, CJ. There was an interesting TV programme about Alastair Cooke a few years ago. It'll probably turn up on BBC 4 at some point. I was annoyed that I missed John Craven's last Newsround. He, at least, did say goodbye, although I missed it. It's never been the same since he left.

Colin Jones said...

I missed that too, Kid. Back to that poignant final Buster cover - December 1999 was rather poignant for me too as my father had died three months earlier so Christmas '99 was the first one without him. The claim of 1960-2000 is stretching it a bit though as the last issue was out on Dec 22nd. But that's a great final page. I can't share your sadness about your school being demolished though - if they demolished my primary and secondary schools I'd happily drive the bulldozer. My fond memories of comics,films and TV shows of yore is precisely because they have nothing to do with school. The only things I've still got from school are my O and A level certificates, I burnt everything else.

Kid said...

Yes, but it was 7 months into its 40th year, CJ, and being a fortnightly comic, that issue was for the period of December into January. It would have reached the end of its 40th year in May of 2000. No fond memories of school? Oh, you're a heartless lad, CJ.

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