I haven’t dived into humour comics on this site, but now is a good opportunity, with the release of the recent Cor!!Buster Special. While for girls comics DC Thomson publications was what I grew up on, for humour comics I tended to read Fleetway/IPC books; Buster and Whizzer & Chips (and though it was before my time I have a memory of reading Monster Fun special, either I had got it from an older relative or I am mis-remembering details!). Of course I did have the occasional DCT stuff like Beano and Beezer and Topper too. For the most part as humour comics were filled with self contained strips (with maybe the one ongoing serial, like “The Leopard from Lime Street” in Buster), there was less of need to follow every issue and easier to dip in and out of other comics.
Still there were favourite characters to follow and focusing just on Fleetway/IPC, I have fond memories of many of the characters that appeared in the comics such as; Ivor Lott and Tony Broke with Milly O’Naire and Penny Less, X-Ray Specs, Bewitched Belinda, Gums, Faceache, Top of the Class, Good Guy, Rodney & Dez, Beastenders and Bobby’s Ghoul. Some of which appear in the recent special. Of course with so many characters to choose from not all could make it to the special, but they have fit a lot into the comic, with 15 strips, puzzles and star-signs. For the nostalgic, people should enjoy seeing these old characters again, while some may not be keen on their new looks, I enjoyed the fresh take, and most importantly for the young people that this comic is really aimed at, there is lots to appeal to them. Lots of fun characters, different art styles and interesting stories.
Personal highlights for me:
Gums which managed to capture the old strips and modernise it perfectly, with Gums and Bluey (the surfer) joined by new character Sophie Justice, marine biologist. The art by Abigail Bulmer is kept pretty simple, with some great character expressions and Simon Bowland’s letters compliment it perfectly. It is a humorous story which still manages to touch on environmental and privacy issues. It was scripted by Lizzie Boyle, who is editor for the Tammy & Jinty special due out in June (2019), so I feel that special is in good hands.
Talking of editors, Who’s in Charge? is a fun strip where the editors of the old comics (such as Buster, Shiner from Chips, Frankie Stein from Monster Fun, and others) try to decide who should be in charge of the special. This strip follows on from a short feature about the characters. With script by John Freeman and art by Lew Stringer, this is a fun mash of characters, with some surprise appearances!
Of course with so many characters to choose from, having several appear in one strip, not only gives the opportunity to fit more characters in, but also allows some interesting interactions with characters, ones I wouldn’t have thought would go together. Such as I certainly wouldn’t have thought Captain Crucial Vs Fuss Pott would be an obvious choice, but the story works great, thanks to Lee Langford’s writing and Edward Whatley’s art.
Sure to be a favorite will be Tom Paterson’s Sweeney Toddler, where every panel is crammed with gags. Although confession time, while it is a good strip, Sweeney Toddler is a character I can take or leave, shocking I know! So I was more captivated by his other strip in the book; Grimly Feendish (with script by Ned Hartley), which only one page long but fits everything it need into just ten panels.
That’s the way of these comics is everyone will have their favourites and not all strips will work for everyone. As I mentioned I was a fan of the original Ivor Lott and Tony Broke with Milly O’Naire and Penny Less (though the title is a bit wordy!) and it was great to see these characters again, although this story lacked something for me. I would have liked to see all four characters interact with each other more, but I really liked the redesign, so I’d still be interested to see more. Which is the big takeaway from this special, that it would be great to see more of this. I’ve barely touched on all the stories, art work and such that is in this book, and the great work people have put into this book, so there is bond to be something that appeals to readers. Also an advantage with this revival (compared to old days) is getting to know some of the creators behind it, I’d recommend checking out 2000AD Thrill-Cast episode on this (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qKmGNHBKeVs)or reading some of the interviews on the 2000ad site (https://2000ad.com/tag/corandbusterspecial).
You can pick up the special from the shelves or through the 2000AD online shop (I opted for the bundle which includes 6 Rebellion specials out this year, and delivery has been very quick). I think any boy or girl would get a lot of fun out of this, so I hope it does well and I’m looking forward to the other specials that will be out this year too.