I was saddened the other day to read of the death of British humour comics stalwart Terry Bave. As a lad, I read his work in my brother’s copy of Whizzer & Chips, but I probably became most interested in his work when I discovered some unique try-out strips he’d drawn for a “custom comic” I came across in a secondhand shop in London that never made it to the newsstand – Whacko!
As I noted in a more detailed feature for Bear Alley back in 2012, this comic promoting Lyons ice cream products was presumably put together shortly decimalisation in the early 1970s. We don’t know if it actually made it as far as publication in any form as, presumably, some kind of giveaway, despite the “1p” cover price.
All the characters featured are unique and many of the strips were drawn by Terry, Not all the strips are credited, but other strips look like the work of artists John Richardson and Tom Kerr.
Head over to Bear Alley for the full Whacko! comic, including a spruced up version of the cover created by Dez Skinn, but here are some of Terry’s unique characters that feature, presumably created with wife Shiela… and yes, we’re aware some themes are of their time and wouldn’t be considered suitable for a comic published today, let alone a custom comic.
Given how busy Terry always was – based on information in his self-published biography Cartoons and Comic Strips, his regular strips around this time included “Scribbler” and “Scareys of St.Mary’s” for Whizzer and Chips, to name but two, as well features for the 1971 Smash! Fun Book – you really have wonder how he and partner Shiela found time to create , write and draw all the strips in Whacko!, too. (And on top of that, he was still drawing single panel gag strips for a range of magazines, too).
Strangely, there’s no mention of the Whacko! project in Terry’s book, available here from Lulu.com, and although the earlier Walls ice cream strip published in Eagle, “Tommy Walls“, gets a mention in Pim Reindeer’s Licks, Splits and Bricks – A World History of Ice Cream, there’s nothing in it about this mystery ice cream-focused “custom comic”.
If there’s anyone out there from Lyons or Fleetway’s 1970s Editorial departments who could shed some light on this mystery comic, we’d love to hear from you.
Richard Sheaf is a longtime contributor to downthetubes and has written for numerous magazines about British comics.