Friday, 28 June 2013

WHAM! IN THE '70s - NOT QUITE DEAD YET...



Weekly comic WHAM! had barely managed to drag itself across the doorstep of January '68 before suffering the inglorious fate of being merged with younger stablemate POW!  At that time, Wham! was one of my favourite comics (alongside sister publication FANTASTIC), so I was none too pleased to see it relegated to the position of support act for another pulsating POWER PACK periodical.


There were six 'proper' Wham! Annuals published by ODHAMS PRESS, the last being issued in '70 for '71.  Strangely, though, Wham! survived the demise of the Power era  (and the transformation of 'last comic standing' - SMASH! - into a VALIANT clone in March of 1969).  In 1971, Wham! Annual 1972 was released by FLEETWAY, and - apart from the logo - bore absolutely no resemblance to any of its half-dozen predecessors, containing, to the best of my knowledge, not one single strip that had ever appeared in the weekly title.


Whereas the six Odhams Annuals had contained mostly humour strips, the Fleetway version was mainly an adventure book, and readers buying it because of warm memories of the weekly (or earlier Annuals) must have been bewildered by the unfamiliar content.  Where were The TIDDLERS, FRANKIE STEIN, or the HUMBUGS?  Just where was PEST Of The WEST?  Gone South by the look of it - along with FOOTSIE The CLOWN, GLUGG and SAMMY SHRINK.


There were two further Annuals in the series, although this time they were combined titles - WHAM! And POW! Annual 1973 (on sale Aug/Sept '72) and 1974 (issued Aug/Sept '73).  Strictly speaking, the books should have been called Pow! And Wham!, because that was the name of the merged weekly - not vice versa.  (I guess Wham! received top billing because it had been released first and had published more weekly issues.)


I had originally bought Wham! comic for the MARVEL reprints of The FANTASTIC FOUR, and by the time the last two of these three Fleetway Annuals came out, I was reliving the FF's adventures in The MIGHTY WORLD Of MARVEL, alongside The HULK and SPIDER-MAN, which had once appeared in Smash! and Pow! respectively.


Strange now to think that (unnoticed by me at the time) some of my once-favourite comic titles continued in name for years afterwards - although the superhero spectaculars that had made them so compulsive were being published in another periodical that was now at the top of my comics list.  In my mind, Wham! and Pow! had died in the '60s - to think that an Annual for them was issued in the same years as the first two Marvel Annuals is, to me, simply astounding.


It's similar to archeaologists believing that two creatures were separated by an immense period of time, only to discover fossils of them in the same strata of rock and realizing that they both co-existed (even though one of them was just about to become extinct).

However, that's enough fanciful nonsense from me - enjoy the accompanying images.

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