WHAM! Promotional Banner

Promoting Wham! comic in the 1960s – a rare retailer-targeted poster

WHAM! Promotional Banner
WHAM! Promotional Banner

Back when British comics had sales in the hundreds of thousands every week, they had a promotional budget to match, extending to retail promotions like this Wham! banner, offered to newsagents in the 1960s by its publisher, Odhams Press.

Launched in 1964, Wham! was the creation of Leo Baxendale and featured by strips such as Ken Reid, Baxendale drawing “Eagle Eye, Junior Spy”, “Grimly Feendish”, “General Nitt and his Barmy Army” and “George’s Germs”. (He also created “Bad Penny”, “Dr Doom”, “The Swots and the Blots”, “Sam’s Spook” and “The Man from BUNGLE” for sister paper, Smash!)

Reid created the comedy horror strip “Frankie Stein” and the Victorian miser “Jasper the Grasper” for the fondly-remembered title, those strips recently collected in two great hardback albums published by Irmantas Povilaika, still available to buy here.

This poster, a rarity saved by collector Peter Hansen, was just part of Odhams’ marketing efforts to promote Wham!, which included, cartoonist Lew Stringer recalls, smaller displays that newsagents could clip inside A-boards.

“It looks like Odhams went all out to promote it,” he says.”A pity that, according to Leo’s book [A Very Funny Business], when he and [Odhams Managing Editor] Alf Wallace went around six London newsagents only a few had heard of the comic, and others had ordered low and sold out. Some things never change!”

Days Gone Lledo: No. DG071024 1959 Morris LD Van Wham! Via “Little Wheels”
Days Gone Lledo: No. DG071024 1959 Morris LD Van Wham! Via “Little Wheels”

The comic has been celebrated in print and by its many fans down the years, and is one of several British comics immortalised by toy car maker Lledo, as one of their many “Days Gone” releases, along with Beano, Dandy and more, many available at reasonable prices from the terrific “Little Wheels” site, or perhaps by searching auction sites such as eBay.

Buy the Power Pack of Ken Reid Books

Do check out and search Lew Stringer’s Blimey! Blog for some great articles about British comics history

Check out more of the Lledo toy car range (and more) on Little Wheels

Days Gone Lledo: No. DG058 Morris Z Van Dandy & Beano; Gnasher Princes Promo

Days Gone Lledo: No. DG058 Morris Z Van Dandy & Beano; Gnasher Princes Promo
Days Gone Lledo: No. DG063014 Bedford O Series Luton Van Dandy & Beano, Bash Street Kids
Days Gone Lledo: No. DG063014 Bedford O Series Luton Van Dandy & Beano, Bash Street Kids
Lledo “Adventure” Days Gone van
Lledo “Adventure” Days Gone van
Lledo “Rover” Days Gone van
Lledo “Rover” Days Gone van

Lledo “Eagle” Days Gone van

Lledo “Eagle” Days Gone van

With thanks to Peter Hansen

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John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

2 thoughts on “Promoting Wham! comic in the 1960s – a rare retailer-targeted poster

  1. It’s worth mentioning that Leo Baxendale created Wham!
    Commissioned to come up with a rival to the Beano, he created practically all of the early characters and came up with the title of the comic. He drew almost all of issue 1 to set the style, although various other artists were brought in for subsequent issues to ghost Leo’s style (naturally, Leo couldn’t draw 20 pages every week).
    Ken Reid arrived with his creation Frankie Stein with issue 4.

  2. And when sales began to dip and Marvel fan Alf Wallace started slipping in Marvel reprints and suddenly the Power line was born…
    Alf would later become involved with the British Marvel operation, but more on that soon(ish) in From Cents to Pence! 🙂

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