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?

tintin phoenix comic feature

I love it when comics pay homage to things that inspire them. It is obvious that the artist loves Tintin and all the other classic comic characters. If you have never read the Phoenix, I would definitely recommend it. It is full of great stories and strips. It is also full of great artwork.

The strip that pays homage to Tintin is called Von Doogan. Von Doogan, or the Doog as he is sometimes called, is a strip dedicated to puzzles. Each week a puzzle would be given to the readers for them to solve by the next week’s issue. The artwork is brilliant and the puzzles are tricky. It was in one series where the Doog is in search of the mystery Asteroid X. A story I would say is similar to Tintin and the Shooting Star. I will just let you see the page and see how many Tintin nods you can see.

Tintin Phoenix Comic

The artist, Lorenzo, must also love some of the other classic comics because the puzzle the week after features 5 characters; Asterix, Obelix, Calvin, Hobbes, and Snowy!

Tintin Phoenix Comic 2

I had found these great little details quite a while, but I waited until Tintin week to show them! I hope you find them as cool as I do!

favourite birtish comic character

I Need You! I will hopefully do a 64 knock-out tournament where characters will be picked out at random (although bigger characters will be seeded) and go up against another character. There will be a large vote at the beginning where you will have to vote 32 times between the 64 characters, but after this it will get closer and closer to finding the nation’s favourite.

I am writing this post to ask for nominations of your favourite characters. I would like a vast spectrum of characters from the D.C Thomson titles to IPC and everything in between. They must be from a British publication.

Once I have received all of the nominations needed I will post here again to show you how to vote for your favourite. I hope this will give people some fun, and cause people to back their favourite character right to the end. If anyone would like to do the vote in conjunction with my blog I would be happy to oblige. Once I have 64 contenders I will hopefully get a national news site or something like that run the story and publicise it enough so that we get a real shot of a national vote.

You can nominate your favourite characters on the comicsuk forums here.


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

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

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
History of the British Comic Industry The 50s

After the trials and tribulations of the comic industry during World War II, came a sales peak that is yet to be replicated. As per usual The Beano and The Dandy were on top of this booming market. During the 50s, The Beano and Dandy were selling over 2,000,000 copies per week each, and were well loved by most because of their morale boosting efforts during the war. By the mid-1950s, the paper shortages were over, giving publishers a chance to innovate and bring new comics to market again. The sales boom of the ‘50s can be put down to four main reasons. Firstly, after the atrocities and realism of the war, children needed a place to escape to, hence the fantasised worlds in the comics appealed. Secondly, they just wanted some relief after the war; a chance to sit, read, and laugh without fear of bombs or explosions. A third reason for the boom was down to the money available to spend on entertainment. During the war, money was tight and people could buy only what they needed, but after, more money was accessible and people could spend it on something they could enjoy. Also in the 50s, all the “baby boomers” were old enough to read comics, and because their parents knew them from their childhood they bought them for their children. Lastly, the rationing was ended in this decade making the common person more frivolous with their food and forms of entertainment. It was also during this period that publishers started making separate comics for boys and Girls.

The Dandy Coronation Issue beside the Diamond Jubilee Issue
The Dandy Coronation Issue beside the Diamond Jubilee Issue

Hulton Press, a publisher that eventually merged into Odham’s Press and then into IPC, brought out two comics that took the concept of “sister comics” to a new level. Hulton brought out the Eagle comic in 1950 and it’s literal “sister comic” Girl, in 1951. The reason I say they created a literal “sister comic” is that many brothers would buy the Eagle while their sisters would buy Girl. These two comics catered for everyone. The boys could enjoy the adventurous Eagle comic with stories based on space, the jungle, and the front line, while Girl was providing female heroes falling in love, having fun, or saving the day for the Girls. Fleetway also brought out two comics that were “just for boys.” As well as the usual sci-fi and adventure stories, these comics also had many strips based around popular sports and history. In this decade, D.C. Thomson brought out three noteworthy comics: The Topper, The Beezer, and Bunty. The Topper, started in 1953, was the first of a new line of comics brought out by D.C. Thomson to complement their two “big sellers” The Beano and Dandy. The Topper broke the D.C. Thomson mould, by reverting back to the tabloid size allowing readers to enjoy larger pages with more detail. The Beezer, The Topper’s sister comic, came out in 1956. Its contents were just as fun filled and seam busting as its D.C. Thomson stable mates.  These two comics became partners much like The Beano and Dandy, and eventually merged before their demise. D.C Thomson also brought out a Girl’s comic around this time called Bunty as a direct competitor to Girl, Hulton Press’ offering. All the stories in the Bunty revolved around Girls and the things they liked at the time.  

The Beezer and Topper Merged Comic from 1993
The Beezer and Topper Merged Comic from 1993

The comics that came out in the ‘50s also brought with them many well-known characters. Dan Dare, a space pilot, became a huge hit for the Eagle, while Roy of the Rovers enjoyed a lengthy career in the Tiger. The D.C. Thomson characters that came out in this decade also left us with a lasting impression. The ‘50s saw the beginning of Dennis the Menace, perhaps the most well-known British comic character ever. Dennis was of his time and has since been modernised to fit in with newer audiences.  In his early stories, he would behave in a “menacing” way towards his parents, Walter the Softy, and his neighbours. Often at the end of the story he was seen bent over his father’s lap being belted with a slipper. In his later days, Dennis became more mischievous, and, with the political correctness, less violent. Dennis has stayed one of the greatest characters because he was able to adapt to the audiences of the day. As mentioned, the ‘50s brought about new girl comics as well as ones for everyone. Two popular characters, Beryl the Peril, from The Topper, and Minnie the Minx, from The Beano, took the idea of Dennis the Menace, changed it to a female character, and ran with it. After the great work of the women during World War 2 as land girls and air-raid wardens, they were seen as strong and heroic rather than just a housewife, so were portrayed more in comics. I believe the ‘50s can be summed up with two phrases, “girl power,” and “new favourites.” Due to all the different publishers, it may be slightly confusing for the reader to know which publisher published what, especially after many publishing mergers. D.C. Thomson are a separate company and have always had the same name and office since it started in 1905, however, Amalgamated Press’ history is slightly more confusing. Amalgamated Press was founded in 1901, but had created comics before this time under the name of Harmsworth. They had another name change in 1959 when they were bought by the Mirror group and renamed Fleetway Publications. In 1961, Fleetway bought Odhams who had many comics in its repertoire, as well as the recently acquired Eagle. In 1963, Fleetway merged with IPC. Today Egmont owns the rights for Amalgamated Press/IPC/Fleetway’s comics and characters.

The Land Girls Empowered Women After the War
The Land Girls Empowered Women After the War
British Comics During War Time

World War II had an interesting effect on the comic industry in general. D.C. Thomson was forced to print The Dandy and Beano on alternate weeks due to paper shortages. These comics had fewer pages in them, but were still able to pack in all the fun from its pre-war days, as well as new characters that lampooned the Axis leaders. Because of all the propaganda The Beano and Dandy were supplying to the thousands of children reading them each week, the UK government waved the compulsory conscription to D.C. Thomson staff so they could carry on with their work. The Dandy strip, Addie and Hermy, poked at Adolf Hitler and Hermann Gӧring, while The Beano strip, Musso the Wop, ridiculed Benito Mussolini.

Adolf Hitler in the Dandy Comic
Adolf Hitler in the Dandy

The regular characters also played their part: Korky the Cat joined the army, Desperate Dan used his super strength to weaken the Axis powers, and Lord Snooty utilized his riches to create new plans to foil the enemy. These characters helped the children on the day laugh at the enemy rather than be scared of them.

Desperate Dan During the War
Desperate Dan During the War

These war time comics were so popular they were often one of the first things the child would bring to an air-raid shelter to pass the time during bombing raids. Although The Beano and Dandy were kept running, D.C. Thomson had to close The Magic Comic, and Skipper.

The Ill-fated Magic Comic
The Ill-fated Magic Comic

The UK government, because of the paper and ink shortages, created a new law that forbid any publisher to create a new comic unless it was a “one-off” publication. In addition to the loss of The Magic Comic and Skipper, many other comics succumbed to the paper shortages and ink shortages. The World War II conscription also led to many publishers being short staffed.