Friday, 19 April 2019


Copyright REBELLION.  Note that RAY's specs have no bridge or temples

So much for The COR!! BUSTER Humour Special being on sale in WHS from the 17th - my local shop hadn't got their nine copies in when I checked yesterday (yes, I asked), so I had to wait until today to get my grubby mitts on the two issues I wanted.  Was it worth the wait?  I really hate reviewing comics, 'cos I'm always going to p*ss someone off if I don't give their work a glowing review, but someone has to give an honest opinion, as opposed to the fawning flattery that some bloggers are prone to.

REBELLION must be given credit for trying to revive these great British humour characters from yesteryear, but I'm not quite sure exactly what readership this publication is aimed at.  Is it for those who have fond memories of growing up with the characters, or is it for a completely new young audience?  If the former, then I'm not convinced they've been 100% successful.  The strength of strips like FRANKIE STEIN, FACEACHE, and KID KONG was the style of the artists who originally drew them, artists such as KEN REID and ROBERT NIXON, not forgetting LEO BAXENDALE.  Not that there's much danger of that last bit, as the masterful TOM PATERSON does a bang-up job of capturing Bax's manic madness and mayhem without (in GRIMLY FEENDISH's case) being an outright imitation.

If it's the latter group, then some of the characters bear such little resemblance to their original incarnations that it makes me wonder if it's even worth reviving old characters when entirely new ones would probably serve just as well.  Kid Kong is no longer rendered in the cute and loveable way he used to be, and Frankie Stein has none of the magic of either the Reid or Nixon versions.  In fact, I'm compelled to ask - was the new Frankie artist even allowed to see any of the old strips?  PROFESSOR CUBE's manufactured 'offspring' bears no resemblance to the character that we of a certain age know and love, being more of a generic cartoon Frankenstein Monster knock-off.  (However, it's nice to see MICKY back, though his name is spelt Mickey on the first page before reverting to its original spelling on the third.)

The SWEENY TODDLER and Grimly Feendish strips are the standout pages in the comic, and Rebellion should take note that they look much like they used to in happy days of yore, which is surely a strong indication of the way to go in any future Specials.  Regarding the title, I'd have gone with The BUSTER & COR!! Humour Special, seeing as that was the order of billing in the '70s.  If they're trying to appeal to 'nostalgists' like me, capturing the mood and the magic of yesteryear is what they should be aiming for, and using an original '70s title would have covered that.  If not, why not just call it something else entirely?

One or two of the artists need to brush up (pun intended) on their layouts, as they're not leaving adequate space in the panels for lettering, resulting in some speech balloons being a bit 'all over the place', instead of in an easy-to-read sequence.  (Though in some instances it's the fault of the letterer.)  Also, the X-RAY SPECS artist, while doing a decent job, needs to pay more attention to his proportions and composition, as there's a couple of panels where RAY looks to be around six feet tall.

And yet, despite those observations, it's good to see the comic in the shops and I wish it well.  If it does take off, I hope the publishers decide to go back to the established, traditional look of the characters, rather than the updated visual appearance that most of them now sport.  Overall, they've done a good job though, and should you decide you'd like one, my local WHS has seven copies left, and they're only £4.99 each (for 52 full-colour pages).  Other branches are likely to have even more, but be sure to buy one before they get nicked.


Checked out WHS today (20th) and there are still the same seven copies lying untouched, which is a little disappointing.  They're on the top shelf of a stand devoted to kids mags, but the top shelf is only around shoulder-high to me, so it's not as if they're invisible.  I'll be keeping my eye on them to see if they sell.


Was in again yesterday (24th) and all seven copies yet remain.  That means I'm the only person in my home town so far who's bought an issue (two issues actually).  The cover has an off-sale date of June, so if it hasn't sold any more copies by then, things don't look good for future issues if my WHS is indicative of others across the UK.  I moved three of them down to a lower shelf, so the mag now occupies two spots - let's hope that improves its chances of selling.


Five days later (29th) and not a single copy of the seven remaining issues has yet sold.  Not looking good for the future at this rate.


Almost a week later (May 6th) and no copies to be seen, but that's not necessarily a good omen.  All the comics have been rearranged since I was last in, so they may already have been taken off sale (even though June is the publisher's date for removal), or possibly they've been nicked.  I'll have a more thorough search tomorrow and see if I can find them, but I've been in a couple of times since the 29th and there were still seven copies, so their sudden absence is puzzling.  Stay tuned.


Found out today (May 17th) that the guy who runs the magazine side of things in my local WHS had taken the remaining seven issues off the shelves and dumped them in the back of the shop, thereby depriving customers of the opportunity to buy a copy.  Although I first noticed them missing on the 6th, chances are they were pulled a few days before this -  remember, last time I saw them on sale was just after April 29th.  Shocking that Rebellion pays for shelf space that it isn't actually getting.  This is the same guy who sometimes doesn't put some PANINI mags out, saying that he keeps them in the back because they get stolen.  No chance of them selling when they're not even put out on display, is there?  Words fail me.


May 20th and there's only five copies left, so hopefully the absent two have been sold and not nicked.  Or is the guy in charge of the magazine section, having been told off by the manageress for taking them off sale, sneaking them off the shelves and hiding them in the back of the shop (until they get sent back in June) as an act of revenge?  Let's hope not.


On May 28th there were only three copies left, which was the same situation on June 1st.  At least that's two thirds of them sold, which wouldn't have been the case had I not intervened.  Let's hope the remaining three sell before June the 12th, when they're due to be taken off-sale.


Dave S said...

Good to see these characters back on the newsagents' shelves again, but like you I'm a bit unsure who they're aimed at. I think nostalgia-hounds like myself would much prefer reprinted material, possibly recoloured, but can't imagine that it's going to grab a whole new generation of readers.

Great to see Rebellion getting some comics on the shelves though, maybe they will pick up a whole new audience and garner lots of interest!

Kid said...

Let's hope so, DS, but they aren't exactly flying off the shelves of my local WHS. I don't mind new stories, but I think they should try and emulate the original look of the characters, even if they're not duplicating any particular artist's style.

Lionel Hancock said...

I always was suspicious that the main character in the kids movie Despicable Me was designed on Grimly Fiendish.

Kid said...

Well, Leo based Grimly on the cartoon version of Uncle Fester from the Addams Family, so Despicable Me might have done likewise.

Paul Mcscotty said...

I thought the same thing about Despicable Me as well even the Minnions reminded me of Leo's little monsters. Just got this comic on Monday and really liked it. Tom Patersons work was as always amazing, was a strange take on Frankie but got used to it. Would be great to see this as a regular monthly).

Kid said...

I suspect that the creators of Despicable Me wouldn't even know about Grimly, PM, so Uncle Fester seems the most likely source of inspiration. Was in WHS again yesterday, still 9 copies, and someone had put the 3 issues I moved back with the rest of them. (I separated them again.) I thought the Special was a competently-produced, professional publication, but I don't think it'll light readers' fires, unfortunately. One artist mainly kept the characters' original 'looks' while drawing them in his own style, and I think that would've been the best approach all 'round. The editor said in an interview that he was hoping to appeal to old and new readers, but when the visual appearance of the characters is changed, older readers are less likely to have their nostalgia-bone tickled. I'll check again today to see if my local shop has shifted any copies over and above the 2 I bought.

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