News of Rebellion’s Cor! & Buster Special (out 17th April) has gone down well with downthetubes readers and artist Neil Googe‘s cover brings the classic British comics humour characters bang up to date.
But for those of you might be scratching your head as to who’s who on that cover, here’s a handy guide…
Martha (from “Martha’s Monster Make-Up”)
First Appearance: November 1976, ending in February 1977
Original Artist: Ken Reid
“Martha’s Monster Make-Up”, created by the brilliant Ken Reid, launched in the very first issue of Monster Fun. A slap of Martha’s make-up cream would temporarily transform your face into that of a hideous, slobbering beast!
There’s more about “Martha’s Monster Make-Up” first appearance here on the Wacky Comics blog and more about the strip itself here on the Kazoop! blog. The strip was dropped in 1977 to be replaced with the return of “Faceache”.
First Appearance: June 1964 until
Original Artist: Ken Reid, later drawn by Robert Nixon
Ken Reid’s take on Frankenstein’s monster is an utter delight and it was wonderful to read the original; strips from Wham! in The Power Pack of Ken Reid collections released last year – still available here.
Fun-loving, wouldn’t-harm-a-fly Frankie lived with his mad scientist father Professor Cube, but the dim witted creation really didn’t know his own strength and regularly caused chaos everywhere he went. It’s no wonder his “Dad” was always trying to get rid of him – which of course, never happened.
Professor Cube proved so popular in his own right that he got his own strips. Frankie later appeared in Shiver and Shake (from its first issue), as well as Monster Fun and Whoopee.
In 2010, Egmont sought to revive Frankie, for their TOXIC comic but although artwork was commissioned, drawn by the talented Jon Rushby, the project foundered because at that point the character was still owned by IPC.
That’s no longer an issue as Rebellion own Wham! and many other comics from the 1960s.
First Appearance: April 1981, ending in May 1983
Original Creators: Mark Rodgers (Script) Martin Baxendale (Artist)
“Deadly Hedley, Vampire Detective” written by the late Mark Rogers, later one of the editors of Oink!, drawn by Martin Baxendale, son of the Leo Baxendale.
Deadly Hedley is one of the classic characters who also features in Rebellion’s Free Comic Book Day offering for 2019, Funny Pages.
Tony Broke and Ivor Lott
First appeared June 1970, ending in January 2000
Original artist: Reg Parlett, drawn later by Jim Crocker and Sid Burgon
Two of Fleetway’s great survivors, toffee-nosed Ivor of Lott Hall, regularly bested by penniless Tony (who lived next door at Broke Cottage), debuted in the first issue of Cor!! and continued through to the last issue of Buster in 2000.
They first of a whole wave of have/have-not creations, Ivor and Tony were so popular they not only survived Buster’s many mergers with other comics, they even merged with another strip – “Milly O’Naire and Penny Less” when Jackpot joined Buster in 1982!
Milly O’Naire and Penny Less
First appeared: May 1979, ended January 1987
Original artist: Sid Burgon
The success of “Ivor Lott and Tony Broke” spawned a number of similar creations marked by contrasting characters, such as “The Upper Crusts and Lazy Loafers” and “Fit Fred and Sick Sid”. Milly O’Naire (of Moneybags Mansion) and Penny Less were Jackpot’s female equivalents of Ivor and Tony, their entire eight-year run drawn by Sid Burgon.
It’s perhaps no surprise they survived Jackpot’s merger with Buster in 1982 by being doubled up with Ivor Lott and Tony Broke, but the characters seemed sidelined to a degree at this point (a fact not unnoticed in this Great News for All Readers post about the merger issue) – and vanished in 1987.
First appeared: January 1979, ended January 1982
Artist: Reg Parlett
Teenager Trix can make herself invisible at will, blinking once to vanish and twice to reappear. Woe betide anyone who crosses her, or interrupts her day.
Perhaps not as memorable as “Val’s Vanishing Cream” from Cor!!, the feisty character enjoyed a three year run in Buster, but was dropped when the comic merged with Jackpot, and female characters seemed to lose their prominence.
First Appearance: October 1971 – ended October 1988
Original Artist: Ken Reid
First appearing in Jet, continuing in Buster, another Ken Reid creation whose initial adventures have been collected by Rebellion. Faceache was capable of “scrunging” himself into all manner of fiendish-looking monsters, his adventures seeming to become more and more outlandish as the strip progressed under Ken’s reign.
The character was also also drawn by Frank McDiarmid, with scripts credited to Ken Reid, Roy Davies and Warrior publisher Dez Skinn, among others.
Faceache is one of the classic characters who also features in Rebellion’s Free Comic Book Day offering for 2019, Funny Pages.
First Appearance: June 1975, ending in January 1982
Original Artist: Robert Nixon, later drawn by Rob Lee
Originally the star of Monster Fun from its first issue, this dumb, loveable character was the idea of editor Bob Paynter, brought to life by the late, great Robert Nixon. The daft ape was one of Nixon’s favourites and he clearly relished drawing stories of the banana-obsessed ape who lived with short-sighted and long suffering Granny Smith who thought the travelling circus escapee was an overgrown child.
“Bob Paynter (Fleetway editor) telephoned me with an idea of what he wanted to see and I did preliminary drawings and sent them off for approval,” Nixon recalled in an interview for the fanzine Golden Fun cited on Toonhound. “I did him a bit too big at first and later toned him down a bit.”
Rob Lee took over the strip, sticking very closely to Nixon’s original designs.
There’s more about the first appearance of Kid Kong here on the Bronze Age of Blogs
First Appearance: March 1973, ending in January 2000
Original Artist: Leo Baxendale, later drawn by Tom Paterson and others
Peering around the Fourth Plinth, is the terrible toddler star of many a comic, who debuted in Shiver and Shake and saw off many others right through to the demise of Buster in 2000.
The baby-faced terror and partner in chaos, Henry Dog, would prove so popular they became the cover stars of Whizzer and Chips; and writer Graham Exton and artist Tom Paterson developed cranked up the mayhem the pair caused during their run on the strip in the 1980s.
Sweeny Toddler is one of the classic characters who also features in Rebellion’s Free Comic Book Day offering for 2019, Funny Pages.
• There’s a great interview here on Toonhound with writer Graham Exton about his work with Tom Paterson.
• Plus, Peter Gray has a post on how Graham Exton wrote his first Sweeny Toddler in Judge Dredd style here
First Appearance: January 1976 Ended: July 1989 – reprints in Buster
Original Artist: Sid Burgon (drawn later by Tom Williams)
Lurking behind the plinth on the left is Hit Kid, who first appeared in Krazy and whose adventures were reprinted in Buster. Hit Kid was a detective for hire who’d do any job for lollipops, sweets, cakes or fizzy pop.
The character survived Krazy‘s merger with Whizzer and Chips, and his anonymous identity leaves fans wondering to this day who exactly was in that trench coat.
First Appearance: May 1960, ended January 2000
Original Artist: Bill Titcombe
Buster was originally promoted as the son of the Daily Mirror‘s Andy Capp (as Buster and the Daily Mirror then had the same publisher) but this was dropped after the first year of publication.
Although Andy stopped appearing, Buster’s mother, Flo, did – and Buster himself made one off panel appearance in the Andy Capp strip, to celebrate 35 years of the saga.
Various artists, including Leo Baxendale and Tom Paterson, would draw Buster’s cover page adventures across 40 years of the comic as the title ate almost every other humour comic published under the Fleetway banner, until it too was consigned to history – until now.
For the record, the titles Buster absorbed were, in this order, Radio Fun (1961), Film Fun (1962), The Big One (1965), Giggle (1968), Jet (1971), Cor!! (1974), Monster Fun (1976), Jackpot (1982), School Fun (1984), Nipper (1987), Oink! (1988) and Whizzer and Chips (1990).
Many other titles were absorbed by rivals, some victims of the “Hatch, Match and Dispatch” publishing ploy to gain new comic readers with a new comic for a limited run – sometimes as little as 22 issues – before being merged with a longer-running title to boost its sales.
Fleetway employed this method of comics publishing across its girls, humour and adventure titles, until too few remained to maintain their sales success, compounded by a lack of investment in developing the comic brands beyond the newsagents.
Rival publisher DC Thomson proved far more canny, which is why Beano survives to this day while Buster and others were cancelled. It’s perhaps no surprise, then, that last cartoonist for Buster, the late J. Edward Oliver, has “Buster Capp” take off his famous cap to reveal a Dennis the Menace style quiff in the final issue of the comic, published in January 2000.
There’s more about the Andy Capp connections with Buster on the Wacky Comics blog here
First Appearance: November 1976
Original Artist: Mike Lacey
When Ray is given a pair of specs by his optician Dad it turns out they have x-ray powers – which proves very handy, although with Buster being a kids comic, Ray never uses them the way you’d expect a teenage boy would.
“X-Ray Specs” proved a popular strip, first appearing in Monster Fun and continuing in Buster, the character making an appearance in the comic’s final issue in 2000, when Jack Edward Oliver rounded off the character’s adventures with his Dad reclaiming the specs he’d given his son in 1975!
There’s more about “X-Ray Specs” first appearance here on the Wacky Comics blog
First appeared February 1986, ended May 1984
Original Creators: Roy Davies (Writer) Robert Nixon (Art)
Debuting in Monster Fun Issue 35 in February 1976, Gums was, obviously, a parody of the blockbuster film Jaws, featured “Shark Worse Than Its Bite”.
Gums was a villainous great white shark who wore dentures, living off the coast of Australia, often at odds with young surfer Bluey.
Artist Alf Saporito, perhaps best known for his work on Cor!!’s “Gus the Gorilla” also worked on the strip, as did John Geering. Later writers included Graham Exton.
Gums is one of the classic characters who also features in Rebellion’s Free Comic Book Day offering for 2019, Funny Pages.
• The Cor! & Buster Special goes on sale 17th April 2019 price £4.99 and will be available in all good newsagents and through comic shops (Diamond PREVIEWS order code FEB191918)
• Find out more about the FCBD 2019 all-ages Free Comic Book Day title Funny Pages from Rebellion here, which marks its eighth year as a Silver Sponsor of Free Comic Book Day – and check out this preview here
• Check out this great unofficial web site devoted to Buster – www.bustercomic.com
FURTHER WEB LINKS
In addition to his comics work, Martin Baxendale has written and drawn funny books like Life after 40 and Life after 50. Martin paid tribute to his father Leo here on the Comic Creators UK Project
Sid Burgon’s also known for his work on “Ivor Lott and Tony Broke”, “Joker” for Knockout and “Lolly Pop” for Whoopee! He also drew strips for Beano and Dandy. retired from the business in 2012, as Lew Stringer reported on his Blimey! blog, picking up on a report in the Berwick Advertiser.
Long associated with the Beano, cartoonist Robert Nixon died aged 63 in 2002. During his lengthy career, he drew “Roger The Dodger” and many more of DC Thomson’s famous characters, as well as contributing for 12 years to the weekly comics such as Buster of rival publishers IPC. In his Guardian obituary, Paul Gravett notes his editor at the Beano said that Nixon would have been able to illustrate a note to the milkman and “make it look appealing”.
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