Adam Eterno sparks some Memories: Which Comics Did You Read Growing Up?

Adam Eterno - A Hero for All Time
Not Final Cover

What comics did you read growing up?

News of a collection of Adam Eterno strips, with a terrific cover by Chris Weston, sparked memories of buying the short-lived adventure comic Thunder, where the strip, written initially by Tom Tully first appeared back in the early 1970s. The first episode was drawn by Tom Kerr, followed by Colin Page, with Francisco Solano López taking over later.

Adam Eterno – A Hero of All Time, a collection of stories starring the time-travelling character with a vulnerability to gold, will be released in May 2021, published by Rebellion.

Published in October 1970, Thunder and its characters such as Adam Eterno and Steel Commando are now owned by Rebellion (and yes, that is the daftest free gift we've ever seen to be used to launch a boys' adventure comic).
Published in October 1970, Thunder and its characters such as Adam Eterno and Steel Commando are now owned by Rebellion (and yes, that is the daftest free gift we’ve ever seen to be used to launch a boys’ adventure comic).

I thought “Adam Eterno” was a great strip, and bought Thunder because of it (and companion strip, “Black Max”), despite the initially terrible covers – and was very miffed when it merged with Lion, which I felt was pretty dull. I think this was probably the point that I started buying more Marvel UK titles.

My teenage comic buying when I lived in St. Ives, Cornwall, is a bit of a mix. Comics were a bit of revelation, because my only exposure to them before mid-1969, when we moved there because of my father’s job, was largely what had been on sale in the local village shop where we’d lived previously, or what grandparents bought as a treat, which included lots of issues of TV Century 21 and Sparky. Oh, and Sally Robinson, the girl next door, bought Sally – a great read.

(I remember entering a TV21 competition and was convinced I won and went looking for my prize in places the postman might have left it!).

Countdown (1971) 1-6 with all free gifts from each issue comprising The Giant Spacefact Wallchart and 24 stamps uncut and as new

In St. Ives, I started to see a much wider range of comics. Countdown, packed with stories based on the Gerry and Sylvia Anderson TV shows, was the first comic I bought for myself on a regular basis, followed by Mighty World of Marvel and Spider-Man on and off, Alan Class titles here and there, some issues of Tarzan, as well as the poster magazine SciFi Monthly. Then we’re jumping to 2000AD, Starlord and Hulk Weekly.

In terms of humour comics, I would dip between titles such as BEANO, Cor!!, Dandy, Whizzer and Chips and Shiver & Shake, Topper and other humour comics, but I didn’t buy one or other regularly, tending to dip between them, drawn by the covers in many cases.

(Despite their low price in comparison with their cost today, there was no way I could afford all of them!).

There were “pocket collections” of Marvel strips available in bookshops, too – Fantastic Four, Amazing Spider-Man and The Incredible Hulk spring to mind, along with black and white collections of Asterix, and we had the Tintin books in the house, too. My local newsagents also had two spinners of US comics. I largely bought DC titles, because many titles – Batman Family, for example – had one-off stories and weren’t continuing tales, which was a problem in a time when you couldn’t be guaranteed to get the next issue of a Marvel title, like Daredevil.

Daredevil #57 - UK Cover
Thanks to crummy distribution, it would be years before I found out what happened after Daredevil removed his mask. Spoiler; this scene happens on the last page of the story inside!

I bought other comics on occasion (Battle, Look-In, Valiant and Warlord spring to mind) and alongside those I’ve mentioned, I was also lucky enough to read old pre-World War Two annuals my grandparents had kept that my Mum and her brother grew up reading – Tiger Tim, Mickey Mouse, Pip, Squeak and Wilfred, etc.; “Jeff Hawke” in the Daily Express, and comics my other grandfather kept in a box my cousins had bought – Eagle and more.

Tiger Tim first appeared in 1919, in Tiger Tim's Tales (soon changed to Tiger Tim Weekly), but the character's adventures continued to be published for decades © 2019 Rebellion Publishing Ltd

One holiday in the early 1970s, we went to a relative who had piles of Classics Illustrated and I devoured those. My grandad with the box of comics also took The Dalesman, so that in part comprised my early exposure to one panel cartoons, along with books of cartoons he owned by Norman Thelwell etc., my Dad’s love of Giles and my Mum’s copies of the Nigel Molesworth books such as Down with School, by Geoffrey Willans and Roald Searle.

(Presumably as a teacher, she wanted to be primed for anything, although I have never found a copy of another book she owned that included some terrific cartoon illustrations, which I remember as having the title All This and Burnham, Too – but no Google search has led me to finding a book with that title).

It was only at University that I had a more guaranteed access to US comics. Previously, as mentioned, although there was some newsagents distribution of US comics where I’d lived, I would be lucky to get one issue from the next because distribution was often odd. This was why Marvel UK’s reprints were such a godsend.

Perhaps this sporadic and wide ranging introduction to the form, largely in my teenage years is why my taste in comics remains eclectic – and I was so taken with discovering independent comics at the Westminster Comic Marts in the 1980s.

So, what comics did you read growing up? Do share your first memories below!

John Freeman

• Coming in May 2021 – Adam Eterno – A Hero of All Time

Adam Eterno © Rebellion
Adam Eterno © Rebellion

“Let my fate be a warning to all those who seek the gift of everlasting life!”

Coming in May 2021 with a new cover by Chris Weston – a brand new collection of the earliest adventures of Adam Eterno!

In 16th Century London, Adam Eterno was working as an assistant to the great alchemist Erasmus Hemlock who had just achieved his life’s goal – creating the ‘Elixir of Life’! Adam swallowed the potion, defying his masters orders. With his last breath, Erasmus placed a curse upon Adam, wishing him immortality. Unless Adam is struck over the head with a solid gold object, he is, “doomed to wander through the labyrinths of time…!”

Categories: British Comics, downthetubes Comics News, downthetubes News, Featured News, Features, US Comics

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1 reply

  1. Occasionally dipping into downthetubes, I read a few articles, and follow what Colin Noble contributes, but this time it was Adam Eterno that tickled my fancy. And then your piece on the comics you read growing up. I think I’m a bit older so my early experience of comics was British titles, and the odd Australian comic that found its way to a local newsagent shop. Apart from the weeklies, and with one major exception, it was Ace Hart in Super Thriller that impressed me most. Even now I still enjoy a quick swatch at the Atom Man’s adventures. That exception was The Phantom. I first saw a Frew Phantom in a newsagent’s window, while on holiday in Crail. That image has stayed with me and I’m a Phantom phan and collector of The Ghost Who Walks.
    Other early experiences that made a big impression were the pocket libraries – Cowboy Comics then TPL. Wonderful stuff and I have managed to collect a lot of them.
    I was lucky that my gran gave me the money to buy The Victor and The Beezer.
    Then as American comics started to appear – prior to distribution, they did sometimes turn up as there was an American base nearish – I found myself in thrall to Batman and Superman.

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