Category Archives: british comics

The Yellowed Pages

A blog dedicated to lovely old British comic strips – I don’t know how I have missed this one (seeing as it has been around since 2009). But at least being late to the party means I have 4 years worth of blog to catch up on. Captain Storm (I don’t know if it is his real name) is the blogger of  the aptly titled ‘The Yellowed Pages’, and his mission statement reads thus;

A lover of old British comics from the 60s through to the early 80s and that is what we will showcase here. However sometimes we will stray outside this mandate. Welcome to the Yellowed Pages where nostalgia isn’t in the past , it’s right here , right now!

There is some great stuff on there, such as The Tower King & The House Daemon (covered in this blog in the past), The Spinball Wars (futuresport – hooray!!!), some of Thargs Future Shocks & Mind Wars (from Starlord). I could go on, but I suggest you check it out. The link is here;

The Yellowed Pages

UK Comics – The Crunch ‘the No.2 for boys’ (1979 – 1980)

The Crunch was a British comic title for boys, from Scottish publishers DC Thompson, that ran for 54 issues from 1979 to 1980, when it was merged with the more popular and well established title ‘The Hotspur’.

The Crunch, one of the many British boys comics of the fertile scene of the 70’s, was released by DC Thompson at the end of the Seventies, and, it could be argued, was their answer to IPC’s 2000AD anthology title. The serials included a formula that was proving to be popular at the time – a mix that included futuresport (‘Arena’), gritty action (‘Mantracker’), sci-fi (‘Starlord’) and thriller (‘The Kyser experiment’). There was even a tribute to Roger Zelaney’s ‘Damnation Alley’ & Dredd’s ‘The Cursed Earth’ in the serial, ‘Plague 2000’ (see the cover of issue 14, below).
But whenever I think of ‘The Crunch’, I always think of the issue 2 cover (below). Although it is announcing that it is the second issue ‘For Boys’, the layout suggests that it is proclaiming it is somehow second-best, that it is not ‘No.1’. An accident of layout that proved prophetic for a title that struggles to reach a year before being consumed by another title with a greater readership – an all too common tactic in UK comics publishing of the time (see also Starlord, Action, Tornado, Eagle)

and then there is my personal favourite, issue 10, where an Alan Partridge lookalike appears to striding purposefully striding away from a giant head wearing a Hitler mask;






The following is taken from http://starhawkcrunch.tripod.com/id3.html

Crunch or to give it it’s full title ‘The Crunch’, crunched it’s way onto newsagent’s shelves dated 20th January 1979 with it’s humble claim, ‘The sensational new paper with the most dynamic bunch of stories ever!’

It’s first issue free gift was ‘The Black Band with 6 Super Crunch Stickers’. The bunch of stories inside included ‘Arena’ (Alcatena), ‘The Mantracker’ (Salinas), ‘The Kyser Experiment’, ‘Here Come The Walking Bombs’, ‘Hitler Lives’ (Pat Wright) and ‘Who Killed Cassidy?’
‘The Crunch’ is famous for introducing ‘Ebony’ (Magallanes), who was not only the first female action heroine in a boys’ comic but was also black, which was groundbreaking stuff at the time. Ebony, agent in the ‘British Special Mission Squad’, used her expert karate skills to free her partner, Bleak, from Merando in Italy where he was being held by Nazi war criminals.
‘The Crunch’ which many believe to be DC Thomson’s answer to 2000AD didn’t capture the readers’ imagination in the same way and more importantly the sales to compete with it’s IPC rival.. ‘The Crunch’ managed only 54 issues before merging, with a dull thud, to it’s much more conservative and older stable-mate ‘The Hotspur’.
‘The Crunch’ which many believe to be DC Thomson’s answer to 2000AD didn’t capture the readers’ imagination in the same way and more importantly the sales to compete with it’s IPC rival.. ‘The Crunch’ managed only 54 issues before merging, with a dull thud, to it’s much more conservative and older stable-mate ‘The Hotspur’.

                              Final issue (#54) cover;

                                               



links!!!


all the covers for The Crunch, here;
http://www.comicvine.com/the-crunch/49-37788/

26pigs covers the title;
http://www.26pigs.com/crunch/index.html

Someone has posted some pictures of the free gifts that were given away with issue 4;
http://www.flickr.com/photos/28773898@N04/tags/crunch/

UK Comics – Load Runner (1983)

In the early 1980s, around the time of the 8 bit home computer boom (Sinclair Spectrum, ZX81, C64, Vic 20, BBC Micro), the British publisher ECC produced a short lived comic based around home computing and gaming. Called ‘Load Runner’ (a nod to the game ‘Load Runner’ perhaps? Or maybe a reference to the ‘loading’ of cassette based programs / games – the standard for the computers of the time). It lasted all of 13 issues. Like most British comics, it was ‘anthology’ based, with several serialised strips running concurrently – most were drawn, but, much like its contemporary, the 80’s reboot of The Eagle, there were also fumetti (photonovel) strips. I assume that the motivation behind the comic was to expand the concepts of some of the computer games of the day – and seeing as the game graphics were extremely basic, there was some sense in this idea. Considering you could get intriguing cover art for a game;

but the reality of the gameplay was like this;

then a bit of artistic licence to expand the concept was a fine ideal. So, what sort of strips were in Load Runner? Well, there was the titular character himself, who alongside his glamourous companion Petra, found themselves in vaguely computer based dramatic scenarios in a virtual world of peril and danger!!!

There was, as mentioned earlier, fumetti! One of the strips was called Time Plan 9, and another was called ‘School for Software’;

which must have been getting some fumes from Grange Hill judging by the body language / posturing of teacher and pupil (love that Teachers wig…)

Then there was the obligatory sports story (‘Load Runner’, despite its slightly different theme, stuck very closely to the tried and tested way of producing a contemporary comic) – this strip was called ‘Andy Royd’. Set in the future (1993), when professional football had changed irrevocably (maybe this was prophetic – the Premier League came into being in 1992….) and robots have replaced humans as the players. However, there is one man (Andy…) who poses as a robot to play in the league and try and save his team – the ‘Dominators’ – from relegation;

But this one has to be my favourite;

There was also a mascot / figurehead for ‘Load Runner’, who was obviously aimed at the demographic. His name was ‘Brainy’;

Anyway, there is some information out there on Load Runner (but not a lot). I would like to point you to the following links;

http://www.gamesetwatch.com/2008/10/column_game_mag_weaseling_the_10.php


http://asylums.insanejournal.com/scans_daily/1187885.html

http://www.shardcore.org/retrogeek/wordpress/category/loadrunnner/

and all credit to the original scanners.

Here are the complete set of covers for Load Runner 1-13. Found them on ebay (current price per issue? 15 quid…);

So…..what is on the mind of Wolfie Smith? (1979)

From the pages of Tornado – who could have used the byline ‘a short-lived title due to be merged with 2000AD very soon) – ‘The Mind of Wolfie Smith‘ was written by Tom Tully with art by Vincente Vano. It tells the story of a young boy, Ernie (aka ‘Wolfie’) Smith, whose telepathic and telekinetic powers suddenly emerge. But what, you may ask, does a ‘boy with the most powerful brain in the world’ crave?

Oh-kay. ‘Woflie*’ (if I can call you that) – you are the BOY WITH THE MOST POWERFUL BRAIN IN THE WORLD. Think about it. You can use your incredible talents for awe inspiring feats, change your world, and everyone around you – for better or worse. Look inside yourself – what is it you desire? How do you want to utilise that magnificent brain?

Oh F.F.S….

Taken from the pages of Tornado, issue 30, The Mind of Wolfie Smith (pages 28 and 30).

* I am sure this is a happy coincidence, but Wolfie shared the same name as a popular Seventies sitcom character.

Jif Dessert Toppings Press Advert (1979)

Remember these things? Fruity syrup to splash all over your dessert (where Ice Cream would have been the most obvious choice) that came in a range of flavours – I am sure you can still get the Strawberry one. Anyway – 3 paper labels from these things plus £1 got you a space calender that would tell you what day a date fell on right through until ‘2001 ad’! Good job too – advertising a 1979 calender in the midst of the summer holidays isn’t the brightest promotion idea ever.

Taken from 2000ad & Starlord prog 126, 18th of August 1979.