The Story of Cor!!
Edited by Bob Paynter, Cor!! was launched in June 1970, IPC’s sixth new comic in just over a year. The International Publishing Corporation was created late in 1962 when the Mirror Group merged with Sunday Pictorial Newspapers, forming the world’s then largest commercial publisher. The Mirror Group’s two comics divisions, Fleetway and Odhams, remained separate until September 1968 when the company’s assets were rationalised and IPC Magazines was set up, absorbing both.
The choice of ‘Cor’ as a name raised some eyebrows, according to Warrior and Comics International creator Dez Skinn, an IPC employee at the time. The phrase ‘Cor blimey’ is a minced oath, a euphemistic version of the stronger, once shocking ‘God blind me’. Similar expressions were commonplace in British comics of the era – many an adventure hero was heard to innocently utter ‘flaming heck’ or ‘flipping heck’, minced oaths for another well-known exclamation with the same initial letters…
Like Tiger, Cor!! had 32-pages, better quality paper and a full-colour centrespread. It consisted largely of traditional British funnies, sometimes with a modern tweak. The unruly school kids of “The Gasworks Gang” (art by Frank McDiarmid) waged war on a teacher who had swapped the customary mortar-board for a beard. “Tomboy” (initially drawn by Brian Lewis) wore jeans and 1970s coiffure but was firmly in the Minnie the Minx/ Bad Penny mould whilst “Tricky Dicky” was a long-haired version of The Beano‘s Roger the Dodger. “Hire a Horror” was a variation of Reg Parlett‘s “Rent-a-Ghost” from the pages of Buster whereas “Football Madd” predated Beano‘s similarly soccer-obsessed “Ball Boy” by five years.
The colour centre pages featured Joe Colquhoun‘s painted artwork on “Kid Chameleon“, the story of an English boy raised in the desert by reptiles, who possessed a suit which enabled him to change colour at will. The series followed his search for the man who shot his parents and owed something to Buster’s popular “Fishboy” strip.
The first Cor!! boasted an eye-catching cover by Mike Lacey with a goggle-eyed Gus Gorilla resembling a refugee from the Banana Splits television show, hollering the double exclamation marked title. His four panel strip was in the shape of a glass, plugging that issue’s free fruit drink. Gus was not wearing his usual uniform of braces, jeans and Doc Marten’s boots, which arrived in Issue 2 when Alf Saporito took over.
Like many of the comic’s features, Gus Gorilla was formulaic, always ending with a cloth-capped man declaring that “You can’t make a monkey out of Gus:. In similar fashion, Tomboy’s exasperated parents generally closed her strip with “That’s our girl”. “Freddie Fang, Werewolf Cub” normally failed in his attempts to do a bad deed whilst in “Teacher’s Pet“, the title character’s attempts to curry favour usually backfired.
Cor!! provided future 2000AD creators Pat Mills and John Wagner with their first regular writing work as freelancers for IPC. The duo’s scripts for “Tomboy: and the gambling-obsessed “Jack Pott” appeared in 1971.
The first line-up changes occurred in the 1970 Bonfire issue when five new features debuted. 1972 saw three newcomers in the New Year issue, amongst them an anodyne revival of Ken Reid‘s short-lived Victorian miser “Jasper the Grasper” from Wham! a year before the highly successful but equally bland version of another maniacal Reid creation, “Frankie Stein“, in Shiver and Shake. The original “Jasper” strips can be found in Cor!! Annual 1972.
After the final episode of “Kid Chameleon” in March 1972, the two colour pages were split up inside the comic and Joe Colquhoun’s talents were later employed on “The Goodies“, whose BBC show often resembled a live action cartoon.
This was the last in a long tradition of British comic strips featuring popular comedians. Beginning on 8th January 1973, the series was drawn in Colquhoun’s looser, cartoony style, and ran until the end of the year. Over on the 26 Pigs, one reader recalls that there was at least one episode of “The Goodies” where Bill Oddie is seen reading the comic.
Cor!! relied on a high level of reader participation. Its letters page was one of the few which contained comments on the comic itself (paying a measly 25p per letter) although this was later replaced by the jokey Cor!! News. Readers were exhorted to send in rat trap designs to ensnare raspberry-blowing master criminal the Rat whose exploits began in 1973. Another gimmick was the four page pullout pocket Cor-mic.
The comic’s most popular feature was “Ivor Lott and Tony Broke“, a classic tale of rich against poor originally drawn by Reg Parlett, which ran for almost thirty years, until the final issue of Buster in January 2000.
The merger with Buster in June 1974 was symptomatic of the diminishing market for British comics. During that year, both the long-running Lion and Scorcher – like Cor!!, an IPC’s expansion title – also disappeared. Nevertheless, four years and 210 issues was a respectable run and the once controversial name was kept alive by Cor!! Annual which continued until 1986.
Article © Mike Gent. Thanks to Lew Stringer for additional information
All characters, distinctive likenesses thereof, artwork and text are © and ™ Rebellion Publishing Ltd except “Frankie Stein” and “Jasper the Grasper” who are © TimeUK
• Kid Chameleon
International Hero’s profile of the character
• The Official Goodies Rule web site includes synopses of The Goodies comic strips in Cor!!
• 40 Years of Fleetway Fun
A chronology of Fleetway’s humour comics on Toonhound
Joe was born in Harrow, Middlesex in 1927. He had always wanted to be Comic artist, but the Second World War loomed on the horizon and so he joined the Navy and served on various ships around the World.
Joe down played his part in Hitler’s downfall, but the very fact he jumped to the call for the services says a great deal about him. He said he never saw action and wasn’t a hero, but who knows? I think all of the guys who fought the war were heroes, whatever capacity they served in. After the war when he was demobbed from the Naval life he had grown to love he landed a place at Kingston school of Art& and broke into the field of comic artist in the harsh financial climate of the 1940’s.
• Read our profile of Joe Colquhoun in our Charley’s War section
• Read the only ever interview with Joe Colquhoun, conducted by Stephen Oldham from in the Fantasy Express fanzine in 1982 published by Lew Stringer
• Joe Colquhoun Stripography
Ken Reid enjoyed a career as a children’s illustrator for more than forty years.
The variety of comic book characters he created for FLeetway, IPC and DC Thomson have had as much effect on successive generations as The Goon Show in the 1950s, and Monty Python in the 1960s.
His most unique creation, the serialised strip adventures of Fudge the Elf was begun, “with artistic promise”, in 1937, in the Manchester Evening News, but did not reach maturity until Ken Reid’s return from the Army in 1945.
Unfortunately, the strip was not syndicated and its readership remained largely in the North West of England.
Alf Saporito is possibly best known for drawing Gus the Gorilla for IPC’s humour title Cor!! from #2 onwards, but his credits also include the British edition of Mad Magazine – he drew a parody of Space: 1999 in 1975, which, according to Mad writer David Robinson was written by Hitch Hitchings.
Robinson, who also wrote and occasionally drew for British Mad (including writing and drawing a EastEnders spoof circa 1986, cover is by Harry North), notes that Saporito’s Rollerball front cover is one of the better British-only Mad covers.
• Saporito’s other Mad Magazine credits can be found in this message on the Mad Mumblings site.
• Saporito also drew “Gums” for Monster Fun, which continued in Buster