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I SPY--------- THE FIRST EPIC SERIAL 
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In FEB '69, the revamped 'SPARKY' introduced a welcome new type of comic character, who went on to become a major success story. I am extremely happy to see some genuine interest in' I SPY' on these pages, as it is my own personal favourite strip/character of all time...............the first version, drawn by LES BARTON, has especially haunted my head for almost 4 decades, and earlier this year, i fulfiled a longtime ambition in securing the entire '69-70 run, which i regard as a staggeringly inventive and vastly under-rated body of work.


-------if there is enough interest, i will be happy to outline all the early serials, but for now, i am going to stick to the very first 8-week epic.-----------after 14 weeks of single-page status, 'I SPY' was deemed successful enough to warrant a two-page spread, and very admirably, immediately launches straight into a fantastically ambitious sweeping epic, namely 'I SPY vs. the INCREDIBLE MR. X',

-------in this early masterwork, MR. X. [who visually resembles a Victorian superbaddie, all shiny top-hat, and JACK-THE-RIPPER cloak,] announces his routine intention to rule the world. His 'superstrength pills' enable him to thwart I SPY'S wide range of gadgetry, and episode one ends with MR. X's super-eagle flying off with with an unsurped SPY H.Q.-------------having secured the plans to construct his own robotic- double I SPY, he commands it to commit unwholesome deeds, which our hero is blamed for. Utilizing his ever-surprizing internal weaponry, the bogus I SPY is defeated.........


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however, MR. X, [never one to attempt world domination half-heartedly], retorts with his army of 10 robotic I SPYS. In the serial's highpoint [episode 5] there is abreathtakingly imaginative showdown, in which our heroic super-agent is apparently blasted to smithereens. [he often avoided danger simply by crawling under a convenient man-hole, and that is what happened here.]-----------tracking down the mechanical I SPY army in a series of slapstick gags, the ever-resourceful MR. X [who likely would have derided HITLER as a novice,]-----delivers his trump-card final weapon: the KONG-sized, all-stainless steel, all-out warlike 'SUPERSPY',-----------and this first epic ends with I SPY emptying jokeshop sneezing-powder and hic-cup pills into the internal engine of the robotic collossus. MR.X. is last depicted as an arm protruding from the twisted wreckage of the mangled 'SUPERSPY' bearing a sign with the legend: 'I WILL RETURN.'--------and I SPY is last seen bouncing off into the distance, a victim of his own back-firing hic-cup pills.------------


in summary, 'I SPY vs. the INCREDIBLE MR. X' ------a very untypical D. C. THOMSON entry, in that it [largely] eschewed typical comicbook formulae,--------was truly a towering achievement, packed with incident and very funny comic invention,------no words i can lay down her can adequately describe the sheer visual delight of this ever-surprizing, hyper-dynamic work of genius.

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Last edited by ISPYSHHHGUY on Tue Mar 25, 2008 12:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Fri Oct 19, 2007 1:03 pm
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I remember many moons ago that 'British Comic World' had most of one issue devoted to the canon of I Spy, No 5 I think it was.


Sat Oct 20, 2007 10:30 am
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'I SPY' update to follow shortly.........namely, the villians and gag situations from very early 1969 pages.......watch this space.....[or not].............ISPYSHHHGUY

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Sun Dec 02, 2007 3:16 am
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-----ah, well, all my synopsises were deleted, so rather than re-write them all, I am changing track, and scaling down my 'I SPY' history, but combining it with an overview of contemporary 'SPARKY' history.........

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Last edited by ISPYSHHHGUY on Sat Apr 05, 2008 4:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Tue Mar 18, 2008 8:00 am
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Might be able to do something for you, I'll have a look through the last backup and see what I can find.


Tue Mar 18, 2008 9:09 am
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MUCH appreciated, ANDY......I had every intention of contributing the ultimate on-line 'I SPY' guide......I will stll proceed,,but obviously, it would help if my original writings could be replaced.....now that I can work a scanner, I could go back and edit in imagery to make it look more interesting......do what you can, pal, ---I will leave it alone for now.

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Tue Mar 18, 2008 10:59 am
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Sorry about your loss of info....gutted for you...

Just to encourage you.......I was inspired by you and won the complete year of 1971 Sparkys for 30 pounds...I had 11 issues already...so 41 issues.working out at 73p each.so very good..though now ebay is off limits for me for a couple of months...

So lots of 3 pager I spy........ 8)

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Tue Mar 18, 2008 11:43 am
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YES,PETER.......'SPARKY' in 1971 was pretty good; check out the back-page 'PUSS and BOOTS' from this era, it's brilliant......I have all but 3 copies of 1971 issues......the best I SPY story from this year is probably the 'COPY-CAT': however, this was from second I SPY artist BRIAN WALKER---it's the early 1969-70 LES BARTON strips I have been writing about........a real bargain you picked up there, though!

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Tue Mar 18, 2008 12:14 pm
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INTRODUCTION: WORLD of SIXTIES SPIES..........

-----anyone who lived through the turbulent decade that was the SIXTIES is doubtless aware of the 'SPY-MANIA' that gripped the entertainment world......the exploits of 007 really kick-started the craze, but other, equally worthy entries grabbed the public's attention, also.......'MAD' magazine gave us one of it's most enduring evergreens with these 2 specimens:

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Wed Mar 19, 2008 6:21 pm
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this anarchic strip fom creator ANTONIO PROHIAS is, in all probability, my favourite U.S. 1960's strip; it's totally unique: completely stylish, violent and chaotic; --and so richly-rendered, that I can only take in small doses at a time!------A CLASSIC, that gives us BRITS a run for our money!

-----However, the hypnotic medium of the SMALL SCREEN [in all it's valve-and-little-white-dot glory] definately threw up some memorable SIXTIES icons, --what with the 'MAN from U.N.C.L.E.' characters NAPOLEON SOLO and ILYA KURIYAKIN [ask yer parents] talking into ball-point -pen microphones, 'GET SMART!', 'MAN in a SUITCASE',----and even the CARRY ON' team getting into the act: the big-screen 'CARRY ON SPYING' had BABS WINDSOR , KENNETH WILLIAMS and the rest, taking on the threat of 'S.T.E.N.C.H.': the team's low-brow, but hilarious spin on 'S.P.E.C.T.R.E.' out of BOND..........

----and of course, good old ODHAMS comics gave us the wonders of 'the man from B.U.N.G.L.E.'......however, anyone who experienced the liberating 1960s is un likely to forget this following ABC-TV series, which ran, appropriately enough, from 1960-1969:

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Wed Mar 19, 2008 6:51 pm
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Hi Spy

I've put some pictures up on my blog.......feel free to use them here...

I like Les Bartons work.....it would be great to see this reprinted....otherwise back to ebay...when money is good...this time I'll aim for 1969..1970..

Though I am a big fan of Brian Walker as well...

I did a Les Barton scan before from an annual......

Hope Andy can find your posts on I-Spy....

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Wed Mar 26, 2008 6:19 pm
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thanks for the encouragement, PETER...if my writings are restored, I intend illustrating the entire contents...the 69-70 LES BARTON 'I SPY' was very different to the later version...unfortunately, the comics are a bit pricier [like most pre-1970 comics in good condition]...happily, I will be placing some 'SPARKY' examples in these postings.

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Wed Mar 26, 2008 9:18 pm
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LES BARTON:

PETER has spearheaded [on his blog] an appreciation of LES' comics work, so I thought I'd add my three'pence worth:

LES [b.1923] is a versatile cartoonist, [still working well into his 80s] whose first cartoon was published in 'MILITANT MINER' near the end of WW2, though it was another decade before his first 'PUNCH' cartoon appeared.

His comics work include 'BILLY BUNTER', [which I can't recall, and can only assume this was published pre-1969, [i.e. before my time].LES' highest-profile comics work is undoubtedly his late 60s/early 70s strips, notably 'I SPY' ['69-'70] for 'SPARKY'...and later, on the same comic 'MA KELLY'S TELLY' whilst second 'I SPY' artist BRIAN WALKER took over the duties in and around SPY H.Q. I also remember some 'TOM KAT' fill-ins he done, --and over at IPC, LES also turned out 'HARRY'S HAUNTED HOUSE', and the HOUSE in question [situated at the peak of of a clifftop road] very much resembled the crumbling lair of ' I SPY' superbaddie MR. X!

LES BARTON later branched out more into the field of satirical, 'political' gags in the style of 'SPECTATOR', 'PRIVATE EYE' the 'TIMES' magazine', etc, as well as contemporary populist mags such as 'REVEILLE'.

A founding member of the CARTOONIST CLUB of GREAT BRITAIN, he is also a gifted caricaturist, as well as having produced colour work for CARDTOONS and CAMDEN GRAPHICS. He still makes working appearences, producing large-scale caricatures in the SOUTH EAST of ENGLAND.


here are some rather SPIFFING examples of LES' work:



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Last edited by ISPYSHHHGUY on Sat Mar 29, 2008 4:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Thu Mar 27, 2008 8:24 am
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Great to see his other work Spy....thanks for that.I'll have to look out for his name on cards...love the Monk one...

Also love to put up a scan of Harry's Haunted house and Billy Bunter...I'll have a hunt....

I'll be putting up I-Spy drawn by Brian Walker shortly...

I think I saw that Tom Kat one in Sparky...

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Thu Mar 27, 2008 8:38 pm
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Thanks, PETER.....it's quite a coincidence that the two premier 'I SPY' artists [LES BARTON and BRIAN WALKER] are still working as cartoonists, and both are now in their 80s.....I'm sure I seen some BW work in a fairly recent 'VIZ' compilation.....although those these 2 cartoonists are scarcely as well-known as D.D.WATKINS, DAVEY LAW, JOHN GEERING and many others,---they have certainly outlived them all in terms of lifespan.

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Thu Mar 27, 2008 9:07 pm
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