On sale this week in British newsagents 44 years ago this week: the boy’s weekly adventure comic from DC Thomson, THE CRUNCH. Phil Shrimpton of Phil-Comics has identified its “Agony Uncle” who answered all manner of boys questions long before daytime TV made it their regular thing.
(For those of you who have spotted the May 26th date in the cover and want to quibble, Lew Stringer explained the ins and outs of British comic cover dates in days gone by here).
Launched in 1978, THE CRUNCH was pitched as “for the boy of today – packed with never-before-told stories with true-life features on the men who have faced the crunch in their lives.” Mixing action, adventure and SF, it was presumably intended as a rival to 2000AD, but back then, looked, to me anyway, pretty dated in comparison to the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic at the time. Presumably many others, too, since it merged with another, longer-running title, The Hotspur, after just 54 issues.
“There was a nickname within Thomson Towers for it and its fellow title, Buddy,” recalls one former editor. “Collectively, Cruddy and the Bunch.”
Like previous issues, this issue of THE CRUNCH featured “Andy”, the agony uncle, offering advice on “glue sniffing” and coping with tough school work – who was, of course, in reality, an integral part of DC Thomson’s comics team.
“It’s actually Euan Kerr, who went on to become Beano Editor in 1984 and remained in that post until 2006,” notes comic archivist and auctioneer Phil Shrimpton, “an impressive 22 year tenure, being only the third Beano Editor at the time.”
“Euan joined the firm in 1969, and spent 40 years at DC Thomson.”
While the identity of the comic’s Agony Uncle is well known among aficionados, his identity may come as a surprise to some, perhaps expecting it to be Claire Rayner’s brother, or some such.
For those who have never heard of the short-lived The Crunch, here’s an article Lew Stringer wrote years ago about Issue One.
Phil Shrimpton runs the eBay auction house Phil-Comics, and has written many articles and published books celebrating titles such as The Beano.
His current auction, ending this weekend, includes a lot that includes a near complete run of THE CRUNCH, and a copy of the first issue of another DC Thomson boys title, Bullet, with its free gift, launched in February 1976.
• Here’s a snippet from Euan’s appearance on the Wogan show in 1988, as part of the Beano‘s 50th birthday celebrations
• downthetubes, 6th July 2009: DC Thomson Bids Farewell to former Beano Editor
• Check out the near complete run of THE CRUNCH (missing #2) currently at auction through Phil-Comics on eBay here
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