herge and marie louise milou snowy

If you asked people for a list of famous literary double acts, surely Tintin and Snowy would be mentioned. Snowy is Tintin’s friend, his companion, and his confident. Snowy is there for Tintin when no one else is. Snowy would appear in every book by Tintin’s side, and often help him along on his travels. Could you have gotten a closer bond between man and an animal?

snowy Tintin

This makes sense when you realise the history behind the character.

It has often been said that Herge created Tintin as an alternate version of himself. It is also said that the many characters that Tintin encounters are actually based on real characters from throughout Herge’s life. So if Tintin is Herge, and the other characters are people Herge met, what does that mean for Snowy?

Herge has said that Snowy was based on a wire fox terrier he used to see in a local restaurant. He thought it was intelligent, brave, and funny. A perfect companion to Tintin. The thing is it is much more complicated than that.

Wire-Fox-Terrier Tintin Snowy Milou

Snowy is not the real name of Tintin’s companion, in the original French version, Snowy is called Milou.

Milou is actually a sweet homage to Herge’s first girlfriend. It is said that he went out with a girl named Marie-Louise van Cutsem. It was young love.

herge and marie louise milou snowy
A Young Marie-Louise

Unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be. Marie’s father did not approve of the relationship as Herge was of a lower social standing than his daughter. He obviously wanted his daughter to marry at her level and lower herself because of a mere infatuation. The relationship ended after this. After this Herge still had feelings for Marie and supposedly named Milou after her. Marie-Louise became Milou.

herge and marie louise milou snowy
Herge and Marie-Louise

It is interesting to point out that if Herge is Tintin and Milou is Marie Louise, Herge made the two inseparable in the books. Tintin could not go anywhere without Milou, and would often risk his life for him. Maybe Herge used the Tintin books as a kind of escapism from his heartbreak?

So we know how Milou got his name. But why Snowy.

Apparently the name Snowy was chosen, because it was the same amount of letters as Milou so it would fit into the speech bubbles. It was also chosen because he is white.

herge Tintin snowy milou

So Herge was a hopeless romantic and ended up naming one of his most popular characters after an old girlfriend. I wonder if Marie-Louise knew?

history of Pixar

Thirty years ago today, Feb 4, 1986, one of the greatest animation studios was founded. Known for brilliant storytelling, jaw-dropping scenery, and relateable characters this studio is of course Pixar! The history of Pixar is full of intrigue with each staff having their own story. In my opinion the founding of Pixar is down to 4 men, men who were each good in their own fields…

Ed Catmull (Technical Whizz)

Way back in 1974, Ed completed his doctorate in computer science to then be employed by a gentleman named Alexander Schure to help him with the new Computer Graphics Lab at the New York Institute of Technology. Ed had already been recognised as a leader in the industry by discovering and inventing various subtleties and techniques in computer graphics. His first bit of animation, which he made of his left hand, appeared in the film Futureword, making it the first computer generated graphics in a feature film. It was while at NYIT, that Ed created different bits of software to help people create computer animations. His most notable was simple named “Paint”; this eventually became the computer animation system CAPS that Disney would use for their 2D animation work. With his obvious expertise, Hollywood beckoned. And who could be more Hollywood than George Lucas? George hired Ed to work on a new computer graphics department of Lucasfilm in 1979, named Industrial Lights & Magic.In that same year he was made Vice President of the department. In 1986 Steve Jobs invested in ILM and turned it into Pixar. Ed then created Pixar’s landmark 3D animation software, Renderman. The same software they have made every film from since.

Ed Catmull Pixar History of Pixar

George Lucas (Visionary)

As a man who made money from creating live action films, it makes you wonder why George Lucas was so keen on computer animation. Before he set the Pixar ball rolling, he had already created Star Wars. Remember that the first Star Wars used old-school effects like stop motion and compositing. To Lucas, the initial outlay for computer graphics could make a lot more money in the long run. This is why in 1979, he hired Ed Catmull and John Lasseter to help him create 3D effects for films under the Industrial Lights & Magic department. Lucas could see the potential of 3D graphics and really wanted to make a full feature film, but as he was losing money from his divorce and the drop-off in Star Wars merchandise sales he had to sell up to Steve Jobs.

George Lucas Pixar History of Pixar

John Lasseter (Artist and Animator)

John had had a hard run while working for Disney as an animator. He was fed up with doing 2D animations and wanted to try out 3D. Him and some colleagues tried out a 3D short with a 2D animation over the top based on the book Where the Wild Thing Are. Pleased with the results, John wanted to create a full 3D feature film. He pitched idea of the Brave Little Toaster as a 3D film. Disney did not like the idea as they felt it would be too expensive, and sacked John from their animation department. This meant John was a free agent, and a perfect target for Ed Catmull. Industrial Lights & Magic needed an animator and John fit the bill. They couldn’t call him an animator as Ed was told he wasn’t to hire any. John worked freelance with Lucasfilm where he created the first ever fully 3D animated short, The Adventures of Andre and Wally B. After finding the funding for Brave Little Toaster was gone, he was offered a job by Ed and went to work full-time at ILM. This partnership between Ed and John eventually led to the creation of Toy Story.

John Lasseter Pixar History of Pixar
John Lasseter Pixar History of Pixar

Steve Jobs (Money and Direction)

In 1986 Pixar were a company mainly focused at selling computers and software while animating in their spare time. George Lucas didn’t want to run a computer business, and added to his personal finances, he decided to find investors. In walks Steve Jobs. After recently being fired from Apple, Steve needed something to work on. So in 1986 he bought the Pixar technology and Pixar company for $5 million each. The $5 million for the company was used as an investment in the company, while the other $5 mil was for the rights for the software. Steve knew the company needed money, and selling the computers was not going to pay the bills. Steve suggested doing animated adverts while they worked on the feature films.

Steve Jobs Pixar History of Pixar

These four men created one of the best animation studios that created some the most highly acclaimed films ever. Each man had a part to play, and had a piece to pplace in the Pixar jigsaw. They each had a skill they brought to the table. If you were to take out one of these men Pixar would not be the company it is today; financially or creatively. They are part of the history of Pixar. I can’t believe its been 30 years Pixar, here’s to another 30!




This is the last instalment of the comic industry posts. I hope you have enjoyed them.

Perhaps the worst decades for the industry were the ‘00s and ‘10s. Just after the highs of the millennium, the industry had a shock after Buster closed in 2000. IPC’s Goliath was beaten after merging with at least 20 other comics including Whizzer and Chips, Cor!!, and Radio Fun. Buster was IPC’s best rival to The Beano and Dandy, but ended up being mainly reprints during the last decade of its existence. It also suffered from a lack of readership towards the end of its tenure. One great touch in the last issue told the readers how many of their favourite stories ended, and also went on to reveal that under Buster’s cap he had a Dennis the Menace hairstyle, as a playful nod to their long time rivals.

last ever buster comic
How it all Ended in the Last Buster Comic

The Beano and Dandy also lost many readers during this period. These losses were mainly down to the new ways of reading like e-readers, and the many distractions for children like video games and television. Due to the lack of readers, the longest running British comic, The Dandy, closed in 2012. Because the comic had few readers, it made economic sense to stop the comic before it operated on a loss. Another contributing factor was its revamp in 2008. Dandy Xtreme, an aim to modernise the comic by focussing around television programmes and video games, lost the comic many of its readers who used to read it as a child. Parents would also not buy the comic for their children, as it was completely different to how they knew it. Therefore, when the comic went back to humour strips the brand had been spoiled. The last issue was on its 75th birthday on December 4, 2012. This issue featured the 75 best strips of the comic, and because of the many older readers who picked up a copy, it became very hard to find in newsagents to buy. Back in the 1950s, the comic was consistently selling 2,000,000 copies a week, but by the end it only had 8,000 regular readers.

last ever dandy comic 75th anniversary
The Last Ever Dandy Comic

These few bad decades did have some triumphs. Some new comics came out during this era but they either had a low budget or were Beano and Dandy specials or tributes. There are only three main comics left now: The Beano, still going strong, Toxic, started in 1991 and later in 2002 with more comic strips than the average magazine, and the Phoenix, which contains mainly adventure stories that was started in 2012 by some of the best contemporary artists. Children’s magazines today are here today and gone tomorrow mainly because they follow the latest trends or fads. The magazines rarely have comic strips or cartoons, and would rather centre on celebrities, video games, or films in an attempt to modernise the format. For me a country without comics is very sad, as many children now will never be able to enjoy the laughs, comradery, and enjoyment that a simple comic can bring. Children will also miss out the great artwork and the gripping storylines. School playgrounds will never be the same without the questions, “Are you a Whizzer or a Chipite?” or “Did you read Dennis the Menace this week?” Without a market for new comics, the main publishers now have to bring out nostalgic comics for their older readers. Just last Christmas a The Beezer, The Topper, Whizzer and Chips, and Roy of the Rovers annual were published with the old style of strips.

best of annuals Roy of the Rovers Whizzer and Chips Topper Beezer
The Best of Annuals 2015

The industry has not gone yet, though, and you can do your bit by reading and enjoying the comics out today.

The Phoenix – A Quality Weekly Story Paper – Buy Here

phoenix comic

Toxic Magazine – More Comics than the Average Mag – Buy Here

toxic comic

The Beano – The World’s Longest Running Comic – Buy Here

Beano Comic

Fax Machines Back to the Future

Well let me first wish you a good Back to the Future day, we can officially say the future is now! To celebrate I have compiled a list of some of the predictions made about today. I decided to write about it today just incase any of the predictions came true today *cough* Mattel *cough*.


If you read yesterday’s post, you will realise we are still a fair bit away from hoverboards like the film. Although not Marty’s board, the Lexus board seems the best so far. I do not doubt, however, we will see ones very similar to Marty’s come out in the near future.

Back to the Future hoverboard
BTTF’s Hoverboard

Fingerprint Identification

When we get a glimpse as Marty’s future home, we can see that fingerprint scanners are the new replacement for lock and key. This would make sense as everybody’s fingerprints are unique unlike some keys. Nowadays, in the real 2015, we do put our fingerprints to use, just not for locking our homes. Many phones and laptops now have fingerprint scanners to check that the real user gets into the device while intruders don’t.

Fingerprint Scanners Back to the Future
Fingerprint Scanner Door Lock

Fingerprint Scanner

Voice Activated Devices

Who would think 30 years ago we would all be commanding and shouting at our devices to make them work? I certainly wouldn’t have guessed. Today we all seem to find it normal to shout at machines expecting them to do what we want them to. In the film Marty’s family all use voice activated devices including a hydrator, retracting  grape shelf, and televisions.

Voice Activation Back to the Future
Lorraine Ordering Around Her Hydrator


Chip and Pin

In the film we see police officers asking someone to pay a parking fine. The driver then puts his card into a machine and then puts his finger on a panel to pay. Nowadays, in England anyway, we can just use a card to pay for items. All we have to do is tap our cards on a machine to pay. So we have actually gone one better than the film where instead of a two step system, we have a one step system.

Chip and Pin Back to the Future
Chip and Pin?


Fax Machines

I suppose in the 80’s fax was the future, but it definetly wasn’t. When Marty is fired his boss sends him faxes to his various machines. The funny thing is he had more than one fax machine; he had at least one in each room! Faxes are still used sometimes in business to quickly send files, but today no one has a personal fax machine or probably want one.

Fax Machines Back to the Future
Not really the future


In the Cafe 80’s we see monitors with celebrities, Ronald Reagan and Michael Jackson, talking to the customer about different items available. They are the 80s versions of themselves and are therefore 30 years old in the film. So we can only assume it is using CGI. Today we are able to use CGI to give people experiences of people dead or alive without them ever having to be there. A prime example of this was the holographic concert of Freddy Mercury at the London Olympic Closing Ceremony.

CGI Back to the Future
Try our Specials


Video Chat

Well done Steven Spielberg, you accurately predicted Skype! Marty is seen giving his pal Needles a conference call, all over a network similar to the net.

Video Chat Back to the Future
Just like Skype


Cubs Win World Series

I know nothing about baseball in American, but I think the Cubs are still able to win the World Series. So I can’t help thinking I should have put some money on the Cubbies.

Cubbies Back to the Future
Against Miami?

I hope you have enjoyed your post and enjoy your BTTF day!


Air Mags Back to the Future

Perhaps one of the most recognisable features of Back to the Future’s utopian view of 2015, has to be the hoverboards. In this post I hope to show you the history of the hoverboard, from its initial conception to its eventual production.

Although everyone assumes hoverboards were first created for Back to the Future, it may surprise you that one of the original concepts was conceived way back in the 1950s. This was named the Hiller VZ Pawnee, and rather than a board it was more of a floating platform. It was built for use by the American Army, but they didn’t really see its potential so only six were made, although they flew them successfully throughout the late 1950’s.

Hiller Aircraft Hoverboard Back to the Future
Hiller Aircraft Floating Platform

From what I can tell the first place we really saw something resembling a hoverboard was on the Jetsons. It seems logical for the first appearance of one to be on a cartoon set in the future. They appear to ride them like Griff and his gang as they hold a piece of string. We are never told that this gadget is a hoverboard, but it certainly acts like one.

Jetsons Hoverboard Back to the Future
The Jetson’s Hoverboard

After its first appearance on television, the hoverboard became a household name when Back to the Future II came out in 1989. The film shows a hoverboard used as a scooter until Marty rips of the handlebars and uses it as a  skateboard. The board takes an important role in the film getting Marty out of many scrapes. Since the film, the idea of a hoverboard has fascinated generations, so many different scientists and scientific organizations have been trying to recreate one for themselves. Unfortunately, they missed the deadline to create one working like it did in the film, but we do know they are still going to continue their work until a great one is on the market.

Back to the Future hoverboard
BTTF’s Hoverboard

In 2001 rumours went around telling people that a hoverboard was in production and soon to come out to market. This project was codenamed “Ginger” and was created by Dean Kamen. The project turned out to be the Segway which was a gyroscopic, two-wheeled form of transportation. Obviously it wasn’t anything like a hoverboard because a hoverboard doesn’t have wheels. So why people thought he was making a hoverboard, I’ll never know.

Back to the Future Hoverboard segway
Not really a hoverboard.

Between 2004 and 2005, two tv shows tried their hand at building their own hoverboards. These programmes were Mythbusters and the Gadget show. Both shows went about the project in pretty much the same way; neither bothered using different chemical reactions or magnets, but used leaf blowers and boards. At this time not even Jamie Hyneman or Jason Bradbury could create a hoverboard as they both ended as failures.

Gadget Show Jason Bradbury Hoverboard Back to the Future
Jason Bradbury’s Hoverboard
Jamie Hyneman mythbusters Back to the Future Hoverboard
The Mythbuster Hoverboard

It wasn’t until 2011 when some real institutions tried their hands at cracking it. This year the Université Paris Diderot in France showed off their “Mag Surf.” Their hoverboard could hover 3cm off the ground by using a superconductor and a magnetized floors. You can watch their demonstration video below.


There have been two high profile hoaxes too. A gentleman by the name of Greg Henderson launches a Kickstarter for his hoverboard in 2014. It turned out it was a massive pr stunt as he never really wanted to use the technology for hoverboards but for other products of his. He basically used it as advertising for his business. Another hoax appeared on YouTube called HUVr featuring Tony Hawk and Christopher Lloyd. It showed a hoverboard working just like it did in the movie. Unfortunately, it was a hoax created by the YouTube Channel, Funny or Die. They had used the same effects as the movies to give the authentic look.


After looking at all the different attempts at creating a hoverboard, Lexus have to be the best so far.  They use the same kind of science as the French guys but make it look a lot cooler. The video is just mind-blowing. It may seem that the board is going over concrete, but it isn’t it is going over a special metal surface. Nevertheless it is still amazing!


So lets hope Mattel have been working on it for 30 years and are ready to release their ultimate board tomorrow.

Dennis the Menace NES

By the ‘90s, computers, video games, and mobile phones were starting to find their market in the modern era. This meant comics also had to modernise. During this decade, it was technology and pop culture that prevailed. The Beano would have a guest appearance of a Radio 1 DJ, or Buster would give away Nintendo NES games. The comics were becoming more childish catering for a younger audience.

90s Games
Some of the distraction for 90s kids.

Many classics also were lost during this era; The Topper and The Beezer merged in 1990 but only lasted together until 1993 after 1,963 and 1809 issues respectively, and Whizzer and Chips ended in 1990 after 21 fun packed years.

One of the Last Whizzer and Chips
One of the last Whizzer and Chips
One of the last beezer and topper
One of the Last Beezer and Toppers

This decade also saw the rise of political correctness. Dennis the Menace could no longer be “slippered”, racial stereotypes had to be taken out, and comic violence was a no go. Any older reader of the classics would have not recognised their beloved comics during the ‘90s.

Dennis the Menace Slipper
Slippers became Un PC

Much like the ‘70s, the ‘80s were full of many comics that failed to sell. The two publishers brought out more comics into their line-ups that had disappeared less than ten years later. IPC brought out School Fun, Oink, and Nipper, while D.C. Thomson released Hoot and Nutty.

School Fun was the first comic that IPC created in this decade in 1983. This comic’s gimmick was that every strip was based around school. Obviously, most children thought they already had too much time taken up with school and the comic ended only 33 issues later in 1984. Oink, dubbed as the Viz for children, created in 1986, featured all the things you would expect from a comic centred on pigs: poo, wee, mud, gunk, and pimples. The comic often came into the spotlight because of the regular, controversial storylines for children. The comic, however bad it sounds, featured many accomplished artists that used it as a step up to the big time. The comic lasted 68 issues until it folded in 1988. Nipper was a comic made around half the size of the other comics on the shelves, hence the name “Nipper.” Unfortunately, because of its small size, it was often not seen on the shelves or easily stolen. This gimmick did not save it however, when just 16 issues in it ended in 1987, the same year it was launched in.

3rd Issue of Nipper Comic

D.C. Thomson’s comics of this era fared only a bit better. Their first humour comic of this decade, Nutty, only lasted from 1980 to 1985. It did however bring one new character that many people would still know today– Bananaman. Bananaman was a super hero whose alter ego was a young boy named Eric. Whenever Eric ate a banana, he would transform into his superhero form. When the comic ended Bananaman went into The Dandy comic and stayed there until that eventually ended, at which point he moved to The Beano.  The same year that Nutty ended D.C. Thomson brought out Hoot. Hoot was nothing special, but it turned out to be D.C. Thomson’s last ever humour comic. Therefore, when Hoot ended it also ended the influence of the comic powerhouse that was D.C. Thomson in the industry. With the old publisher’s waning, new publishers were attempting to take the new business. However, these comics were not of the same quality that IPC and D.C. Thomson had produced.

1st Nutty Comic
1st Nutty Comic

Two new comics from this decade prove my point. Triffik, created by Communications Innovations, set out to become the main rival to The Beano. Unfortunately, the artwork and story line could not live up to the hype and bowed out only 12 issues later. Bog Paper published by Marvel UK was one of many comics brought out by this publisher in this decade. As you can imagine the comic left a lot to be desired. Many comics decided, rather than be original, to be copycats of more popular comics. Triffik wanted to be The Beano and other comics wanted to be the Viz. These comics lacked the artwork needed to become successful, and thus gave the industry a bad name. All these comics saturated the markets, meaning readers had more choice, but the comics had less readers making them not last as long as the cherished classics.

part 6

The 1970s were marked with many short-lived comics that struggled to find a market once the decade had finished. These comics were often very good quality with great artwork and stories, but because of the squeeze on readership during this decade, their sales figures could not support them. Both main publishers brought out two comics each that did not see themselves on the shelves come the 1980s.

These comics were Cor!! and Cheeky Weekly created by IPC and D.C. Thomson created Cracker and Plug. Cor!! was started in 1970 and seemed to take many ideas from the D.C. Thomson comics. Tomboy, as you can imagine, was very similar to Minnie the Minx, Tricky Dicky was like Roger the Dodger, and The Gasworks Gang mirrored The Bash Street Kids all from The Beano. The comics did not always copy other characters and when they did not they created many memorable ones by themselves. Ivor Lott and Tony Broke, Jack Pott, and Chalky provided readers with great characters that you could only find in Cor!!. It was these characters that remained after Cor!! merged with Buster in 1974 after only 210 issues. One interesting thing to note is that IPC continued to create annuals for Cor!! until 1986! Cheeky Weekly, another comic by IPC, was a spin-off comic about Cheeky, a character from Krazy (another short-lived comic from this era). The premise of the comics was completely new to the readers. Cheeky, the comic’s host, lived the week out in the comic while meeting his friends along the way. Cheeky’s week was the back-story behind the comic with the strips cleverly woven in. Often during the week, Cheeky would bump into characters who would remind him of a story which appeared in strip form in the comic. He could also be found rummaging in his attic, revealing a reprint from an old IPC title asking the readers to ask their parents if they remembered it. For its time Cheeky was ahead of the curve, this is potentially why it only lasted from 1977 to 1980.

cheeky weekly no 1
First Cheeky Weekly Issue
Gus The Gorilla
Gus The Gorilla – You Can’t Make a Monkey Out Of Gus

D.C. Thomson also had a hard time making comics stick during this decade. Cracker, another edition to D.C. Thomson’s humour line followed the same pattern as its predecessors, containing strips, reader’s pages, and puzzles. Although from the D.C. Thomson stable, this comic lacked original characters that did not take ideas from other popular strips. This comic lasting from 1975 to 1976, was the first of many short-lived D.C. Thomson comics. Plug, released a month before Cheeky Weekly also played on the one character comic idea. Plug was the gormless and ugly character from the Bash Street Kids. The strips in this comic were more original as they used it as a platform for more zany ideas, basing many of the strips around sports and music. The comic gained a reputation for itself when many stars featured in the comic, most notably John Wayne, died soon after their appearances, creating the “curse of Plug.” The comic cost 9p instead of the 5p charged by many of the other comics, making it almost twice the price. This contributed to a lack of sales that led to its closure in 1979. Both comics merged with The Beezer after they folded within 3 years of each other.

plug comic
First Issue of Plug Comic

During this decade, IPC did have one success and it came in the form of Whoopee! which took the same format as many of the comics at the time. However, Whoopee! seemed to hit on a winning formula because it lasted for over ten years from 1974 to 1985. This comic had many popular characters including Smiler, Toy Boy, and the Bumpkin Billionaires. It merged with Whizzer and Chips who took many of the best Whoopee! characters.

bumpkin billionaires
The Bumpkin Billionaires

Only two comics founded in this decade are still around today. These are 2000 A.D.. and Viz published by IPC and Dennis Publishing respectively. 2000 A.D.. is a sci-fi comic set in the year 2000, a far away year from when it was started in 1977. It was the first British comic to invade America and become just as acclaimed and recognisable as the D.C and Marvel comics. This success has led to many spin offs including a recent movie set around the main character, Judge Dredd. This comic broke the mold, refreshed the sci-fi genre, and became a cult classic. The Viz comic, started in 1979, brought another element to the industry – smut.  The comic, proud of being rude, racist, sexist, and vulgar, influenced countless other comics to follow suit. The comic became a best seller and sold around 1.2 million copies at its peak, making it the third most bought publication in the UK at one time. This was the first comic to cater especially for adults and is still on sale today, 36 years later.

Judge Dredd 2000 AD
Judge Dredd of 2000 AD Fame

You may think that all landmarks have been in the property of their respective governments right? Wrong, most landmarks where in the possession of private owners at one time or another. Today’s post is about one man who bought a landmark and then gave it to his country just over 100 years ago.

Cecil Chubb, born in 1876,  grew up as the son of a saddler in Shrewton, a village on Salisbury Plain. He worked his way through the local village school, the local grammar school, eventually enrolling at Christ’s College at Cambridge University. He met his wife while playing cricket for his grammar school, and became a barrister after leaving uni. While a barrister, Cecil amassed a large fortune for him and his family.

cecil chubbs stonehenge
Cecil Chubbs and his wife.

So when Stonehenge, one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites, came up for sale in 1915 he could afford it. Stonehenge was  actually in the possession of the Antrobus family, until the last remaining male heir died in World War 1, so they decided to auction off the site. On the day of the sale, Cecil’s wife supposedly sent him off to buy a pair of curtains, but came back with Stonehenge. It has also been said he bought it has a present for his wife, who didn’t appreciate his gift. One more theory is that he didn’t want an American to buy it. Either way he spent £6,600 (just under £500,000 in today’s money) for the plot on a whim.

stonehenge world war 2
American Troops Marching Past Stonehenge in World War 2

Cecil was not greedy, however, as he decided to give Stonehenge to the country in 1918. He did give some conditions on his gift though; the public should be allowed in for free or for a very small fee, and no building, expect a pay box, could be built on the plot. Stonehenge belonged to the country after 1918, and for his reward Cecil was made a Baronet by Lloyd George. So thanks to one man who bought a pile of rocks on a whim, has opened up a piece of the country’s history to the public.


When the 1960s came, many comics had settled in and found a reliable reader base, because of this the comic stalwarts sold steadily throughout the decade. Now comics were seen as a staple for British children, and each child bought their favourite comic weekly. Comics were now coming into their own because of their new contemporary approaches, the artists began to find their own style, and the artwork became as popular as the storyline. The two main publishers brought out many new comic during this decade. IPC created their first real competitor to The Beano and Dandy in 1960. and named it Buster. Buster was an amalgamation of all they had learned from their previous comic ventures. Its title character, Buster, was originally billed as the son of Andy Capp, the star of his own strip in the Mirror. Andy Capp never alluded to Buster in his strip, while only a few cameos appeared of Andy Capp in Buster’s strip. Later on, to avoid any link with the unsavoury nature of some of the Andy Capp strips, Buster’s links to his father were cut and thus became a standalone character in his own comic. Buster comic, being a standout publication for IPC amongst its other less unsuccessful comics, became a “graveyard” for almost all the IPC comics that folded. Just in the ‘60s alone Buster merged with four other IPC comics including Radio Fun and Film Fun in 1961 and 1962 respectively. Often during a merger, the best characters from the deceased comic would join the bigger, more popular comics. Unless these characters were very special they would eventually stop appearing in the comic and all trace of the merged comic would disappear. Whenever a comic was to closed or merge, the ironic tag line read “Great News Inside,” which to most of the readers would signal the end of their favourite comic; this phrase has now become an “in joke” between collectors. Buster was the first comic launched by the newly merged IPC, and paved the way for many more IPC comics to come.

Andy Capp
Not a good example
Buster Capp
Buster appearing on a stamp

One of these comics was Whizzer and Chips. IPC brought out this title to add to their stable, and give Buster a sister comic. Whizzer and Chips launched in 1969, nine years after Buster, produced many memorable characters. IPC actually billed Whizzer and Chips as two comics in one; Whizzer, whose leader was Sid and his snake, and Chips, whose leader was Shiner. The two comics in one originally billed as companion comics, soon became rivals. Later on, the rivalry played out in the comics as well as between groups of children. Back in the 1970s, being either a Whizzer or a Chipite could cause cliques and gangs among the children. The comic would also play on this rivalry by having what they called “raiders.” These raiders would be a character from the opposite comic that hid in amongst the other comic’s strips. This provided children with an extra bit of fun once they had finished reading the comic. If you were wondering, I would call myself a Whizzer.

First Whizzer and Chips
First Whizzer and Chips Comic

After the launch of Buster, and before Whizzer and Chips came out, D.C. Thomson put out their fare for the ‘60s. Sparky, launched in 1967, became their fifth humour comic. It contained the same zany and fun filled pages as its predecessors did. Sparky took many of the defunct characters from the early Beano and Dandy comics and refreshed them for the modern audience. Keyhole Kate, Hungry Horace, and Freddie the Fearless Fly from The Dandy and Pansy Potter, Hairy Dan, and Frosty McNab from The Beano had makeovers when they reappeared in the Sparky. Apart from these standout humour comics, IPC and D.C. Thomson also brought out many boys’ papers during this period. D.C. Thomson launched the Victor and Hornet in 1961 and 1963 respectively, while IPC brought out Valiant in 1962 and the five Power Comics, Wow!, Smash!, Pow!, Fantastic, and Terrific between 1967 and 1968. Sadly, with the success of the new humour comics coming onto the market, D.C. Thomson’s “Big Five” disappeared in this decade. The industry became humour only with a pinch of adventure offered by the boys’ papers. Text stories also lost popularity during this period. If children wanted a comic, they did not want to read stories as if they were from a book; they wanted action, jokes, and japery from the comic strips. The 60s were known as an era of psychedelic colour and the comics were no exception; the new comics brought out reflected the mood by adding more colour on the front cover as well as the content inside.

sparky comic 1
First Issue of the Sparky Comic