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Sparky's Golden Jubilee 
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It really is hard to believe that it is fifty years ago this week that my seven year old self bought the first issue of Sparky comic and used the free Flying Snorter in contained to aggravate our dog. Sadly both comic and dog have long gone but I have very fond memories of Sparky as it was the first comic I ever had from Number 1. (Very much a D C Thomson household at that time I knew little of the previous years Wham or TV Century 21 just simultaneously published)
It was certainly an odd title compared to what I was used to in Dandy,Beano, Topper and Beezer but delightfully so.
A quite exhaustive history of Sparky has already been compiled by Alan Smith and Lew has just done a piece on the Sparky's early days on his blog in the last few days.
Hopefully I'll add a few comments of my own here in the next week or so.


Fri Jan 23, 2015 5:49 pm
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Great timely reminder, Kashgar, the half-Century totally slipped my mind, although I certainly remembered the 45th Anniversary of I SPY on Feb 1 last year.


In my view, this comic gave us at least three characters which rate as valid as any other characters from any comic of any era:


THE MOONSTERS, I SPY, and PUSS n BOOTS.


At the age of 7 and 8, this comic completely commanded my full attention, and the overall standard of Comicdom in 1969 was very high indeed, I thought.


Fantastic comic, eternally burned into my conciouisness.

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Fri Jan 23, 2015 6:44 pm
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Kashgar wrote:
A quite exhaustive history of Sparky has already been compiled by Alan Smith
I can certainly recommend Alan's work. He has produced a thoroughly professional, copiously illustrated index to Sparky, which in my opinion is enhanced by the comments and opinions that he intersperses periodically. The net result is a kind of personalised history of the comic. It loses nothing of the detail that would be required by anyone seeking facts or dates, and gains plenty by taking his readers into his confidence from time to time. His approach is unusual but it works.


Fri Jan 23, 2015 8:34 pm
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Here, hear, Phoenix and Kashgar.


Alan must have also shelled out thousands in his pursuit of obtaining everything Sparky-related.

He also paid a lot of money shelling out for something as obscure as internal DCT Sparky memo.

I doubt if even I would have ventured that far!

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Fri Jan 23, 2015 11:35 pm
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I have shelled out a fair bit for completing my collection.

Fortunately, I got hold of a number of half-year bundles (1977, 1976, 1969 and 1970) as well as a few bundles of consecutive issues (1973 and 1974)

As of late last year, I now have only six issues to collect and three better issues wanted.

However for the next month and a bit, I am on a hiatus in buying and bidding, as I am going on holidays in the second half of February. Once I return in the beginning of March, I will resume the search, with the hope of completing my collection this year. :D

Happy 50th, Sparky!

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Sat Jan 24, 2015 12:11 am
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I love Spoofer..Sparky People..puss n boots..dreamy daniel..L cars...Barney Bulldog...The Moonsters..Mr Bubbles..the editor did a great job when he took over in 1969...what did he do next after Sparky editor Ian. He also did a brilliant job on Beezer and prefer his direction in Beezer then the next editor..
Also when he was working in girl comics were they very good as well?

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Sat Jan 24, 2015 9:29 am
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Thankfully- over my illness and back here in time for this thread!! I forgot it was 50 years January that my favourite junior comic came out (Sat 16th Jan 1965 to be exact) It did change to Friday release by issue ten- I have updated my `Sparky-File` to show this!
The Dandy had been my favourite comic till then- but I soon loved my Sparky's and it became my most loved comic. I had all but (A couple of 1968) issues up to May 71.

Of the early years- I really liked the "Dave & Dora" and "Willy the Woeful Wizard" strips. There was "Will O` the Well" "Davy Spacer" "Year of the Vanaks" "Granny Cupp" and "Grockle" too! Only the surfeit of animal based stories such as "McGinty the Goat" were rather dull to me. Of course there was "Invisible Dick" too- ah well! Never mind!

Of course- the highlight of 1969-71 for me was "I.Spy" Goodness! that strip was worth the price of the comic by itself. I think that by 1970 Sparky had become a far better read than Beano or Dandy- just my opinion!

I wonder why Ray (Kashgar) never produced one of his superb guide books for `Sparky` as he did with other DCT `Fun` titles- but it left me room to do my `Sparky File`

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Sat Jan 24, 2015 11:31 am
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Oh! Thank you folks for those kind words about my `File` most appreciated- cheers! :cheers:

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Sat Jan 24, 2015 11:33 am
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Never got around to it would be the simple answer Alan, but your own Sparky File more than makes up for it. In the next week or so I may add a few bits and pieces to the Sparky story as a small addition to your own excellent history of the comic as my own little tribute to one of my own favourite comic titles.
Sparky, as we've already mentioned was an odd, whimsical comic title that seemed to owe its' origins to another age and this was, in many ways, the truth of the matter. For Sparky was in its tone and in the readership demographic to which it was meant to appeal a revival of the Magic comic which had last seen the light of day twenty-five years earlier.
A comic title produced by the Thomson girl's picture paper dept under the control of Bill Blain and edited by Willie Mann, hot-foot from editing the boys picture paper Victor
and, adventure strips aside, packed with comic strips culled from Thomson's comic archive dating back, in some cases nearly, forty years.
Odd indeed, but winningly so.


Sat Jan 24, 2015 1:43 pm
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I thought that early SPARKY [1965-Jan 1969] was a real oddity, too, at the time: I only saw the odd copy but I found it compelling with some pretty creepy stuff in it like the surreal nightmares often depicted in Dreamy Dave and Dozy Dora. that had a slightly disturbing edge to it, that surely was not the intention of the creators.

Early Sparky looked like it was beamed in from another era in comparison to other contemporary D C T titles...it seemed to be aimed at a young readership somewhere between Bimbo and Beano.

The tone of the early issues was unforgettable though, the often bizarre anachronisms made for pretty compelling stuff, I felt.

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Sat Jan 24, 2015 2:22 pm
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Sparky had a strange charm to it in it's early days but by 1969 it was unmissable. A very enjoyable comic. Ray, given its similarities to Magic comic do you know if Thomsons had originally considered calling it Magic before they settled on 'Sparky'?

Regarding the name Sparky, I've always wondered if it was inspired by the 1940s record/audio drama 'Sparky's Magic Piano', as that was played to us in school in 1964 (and presumably in other infant schools too).

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Sat Jan 24, 2015 2:26 pm
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I think I am right in saying that Dudley Watkins' only SPARKY-related work was some untypical Biblical-themed material in the early annuals.

Watkins' passing also affected Sparky as they lost the undoubted skills of Bob Nixon who was in demand over at BEANO on various projects.

Nixons' workload on that comic visibly increased after they lost Watkins.......He contributed a strip called ESKY MO in 1969 but then disappeared off the Sparky radar,---other than backdated annuals work------- only reappearing in latter 1972 on a colour-spread entitled Oh Crumbs!

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Sat Jan 24, 2015 2:47 pm
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Kashgar wrote:
Never got around to it would be the simple answer Alan, but your own Sparky File more than makes up for it. In the next week or so I may add a few bits and pieces to the Sparky story as a small addition to your own excellent history of the comic as my own little tribute to one of my own favourite comic titles.
Sparky, as we've already mentioned was an odd, whimsical comic title that seemed to owe its' origins to another age and this was, in many ways, the truth of the matter. For Sparky was in its tone and in the readership demographic to which it was meant to appeal a revival of the Magic comic which had last seen the light of day twenty-five years earlier.
A comic title produced by the Thomson girl's picture paper dept under the control of Bill Blain and edited by Willie Mann, hot-foot from editing the boys picture paper Victor
and, adventure strips aside, packed with comic strips culled from Thomson's comic archive dating back, in some cases nearly, forty years.
Odd indeed, but winningly so.
That sounds right. Undoubtedly, if not for wartime paper rationing, Topper and Beezer would've launched in the early 1940s, not in the 1950s, thereby completing the humour Big Five they had planned. Magic met it's demise of course, so Sparky ended up completing the set. Sparky at it's start is very much what Magic would probably have been if it had survived that quarter century. The two titles have at least three characters in common (Sparky/Sooty Snowball, Peter Piper, and Dolly Dimple), and three others are also from the 1930s but originally from Dandy and Beano (Hungry Horace, Keyhole Kate, and Pansy Potter).

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Sat Jan 24, 2015 6:24 pm
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Lew Stringer wrote:
Sparky had a strange charm to it in it's early days but by 1969 it was unmissable. A very enjoyable comic. Ray, given its similarities to Magic comic do you know if Thomsons had originally considered calling it Magic before they settled on 'Sparky'?

Regarding the name Sparky, I've always wondered if it was inspired by the 1940s record/audio drama 'Sparky's Magic Piano', as that was played to us in school in 1964 (and presumably in other infant schools too).


R D Low would have called the revived title Magic it seems but Bill Blain wanted it to have a new name even if the ethos it was reviving was that of the old title and, as it was his 'baby' so to speak, his opinion carried the day. It is interesting to speculate that Sparky may have been chosen because of the connection with SPARKY's MAGIC Piano though. A compromise of sorts and you're right Lew it was a name that many a school kid would have been aware of at the time so that would have been a plus. No firm evidence that that was the case though.
Digifiend wrote:
That sounds right. Undoubtedly, if not for wartime paper rationing, Topper and Beezer would've launched in the early 1940s, not in the 1950s, thereby completing the humour Big Five they had planned. Magic met it's demise of course, so Sparky ended up completing the set. Sparky at it's start is very much what Magic would probably have been if it had survived that quarter century. The two titles have at least three characters in common (Sparky/Sooty Snowball, Peter Piper, and Dolly Dimple), and three others are also from the 1930s but originally from Dandy and Beano (Hungry Horace, Keyhole Kate, and Pansy Potter).

Absolutely Digi and a good few more Freddy the Fearless Fly, Hairy Dan, Nosey Parker, Dick Turpentine etc but more of those later.


Sat Jan 24, 2015 9:36 pm
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Wouldn't it be nice if DC Thomson could produce a Sparky Summer Special, something that never happened in its lifetime. A specially chosen selection of strips in full colour for the first time. A nice thought but it will never happen.


Sat Jan 24, 2015 10:27 pm
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