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Sunday, 18 October 2015
KID KLASSICS: BUT WHERE DID MICKY GO...?
The very first FRANKIE STEIN strip from WHAM! #4
FRANKIE STEIN, drawn by KEN REID, first appeared in issue
#4 of LEO BAXENDALE's WHAM! on July 4th, 1964. (Issue dated
11th.) The comic was intended as a 'SUPER-BEANO' by publishers
ODHAMS PRESS, to be a direct rival to D.C. THOMSON's then
twenty-six year old companion paper to The DANDY.
Wham! only lasted for about three and a half years, so measured
against the longevity of the Beano, plus its own aspirations, it must be
considered a failure; although, truth to tell, it no doubt made its money
back - and then some - for Odhams. Frankie Stein, on the other hand,
managed a respectably long run in one form or another, especially in
the later ROBERT NIXON incarnation of the '70s.
After Wham! ended, Frankie (sans PROFESSOR CUBE's son,
MICKY) popped up again in SHIVER & SHAKE in 1973, moving
to WHOOPEE! when the two titles merged in '74. He also appeared in
MONSTER FUN COMIC in 1975, as well as eight Holiday Specials
('75-'82) devoted to his loveable self - plus a pair of softcover Annuals
('76 & '77). He continued to appear in reprinted form in various publi-
cations by IPC/FLEETWAY/EGMONT in the late '80s and early
'90s, before finally succumbing to the oblivion that had engulfed
his birth-comic back at the beginning of 1968.
Although Bob Nixon's version had its own charm for a new
audience, nothing could really compare to the original Ken Reid
Frankie of the '60s - utter comic lunacy at its very best.
When Frankie re-appeared in the '70s, I was disappointed to see
that, except for reprints, Micky was absent - and sometimes he was
excised even from them. However, looking over Frankie's old strips
recently, I was surprised to discover that, out of the last 16 stories to
appear in Wham!, Micky appeared in only one of them. Perhaps, then,
the '70s, Micky-less, version was merely picking up where the '60s
run had left off - namely, with Professor Cube's boy more or less
permanently phased out of the picture.
SPECIAL BONUS: Feast your eyes on this photo of an original
piece of Ken Reid Frankie Stein art, first published in Wham! #134,
December 31st, 1966. (Issue dated January 7th, 1967.)