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Sparky's Golden Jubilee 
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It sure was, Rave! :) :) :) :) :)

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Wed Feb 11, 2015 10:14 am
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Raven. in saying `Last legs` I more meant sales-wise really! Artistically- its down to each reader how they judge the comic- and i'm glad you really enjoyed its latter period- that's smashing! If only lots more could have bought it, would have lasted longer.

It reprinted "Rudolph the Red Coat Mountie" "Sparky People" "Spoofer McGraw" "Invisible Dick" and "Mr Bubbles" in its final stages- not really the sign of a comic thriving I have to submit.

I do agree with you that its 1960s `fun strips` today- don't enthrall! Very true; and they used old 1930s-40s storylines! I enjoyed some at time of reading though. However! I beg, please give "Me and My Grockle" and "Fireman Fred" another look as I think those two are worth it.

Lew and I must have stopped reading it in the early 70s. A different world then as once you left school it was the `adult` world and comic's were seen as a child's thing back then. Really wish i'd kept my collection then- alas I sold them!

It is good there are fans of latter day Sparky and who champion it- hooray! :P But I still can't go for "Circus of P.T Bimbo" Not for me! Ah! well! :wink:

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Wed Feb 11, 2015 12:53 pm
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I liked the buxom woman in PT Bimbo-----I think her name was Hevvy Lamaar or Legs Akimbo or something: quite subversive for a kids' comic, I thought!

I appreciated this subversion.

There should have been more of this in comics of the day!

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Wed Feb 11, 2015 1:07 pm
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The Circus of P T Bimbo was of course not a Sparky original but a reprint of a newspaper/magazine strip by US cartoonist Howard 'Howie' Schneider (1930-2007).
A collection of the strip was released in book format in 1976.


Wed Feb 11, 2015 3:03 pm
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alanultron5 wrote:
Raven. in saying `Last legs` I more meant sales-wise really! Artistically- its down to each reader how they judge the comic- and i'm glad you really enjoyed its latter period- that's smashing! If only lots more could have bought it, would have lasted longer.


Ah, I see! Well, I didn't buy it much, myself, always favouring IPC over D.C. Thomson comics at the time, but it was an occasional buy, and the Thomson fun title I liked most of all. I did tend to get the annuals.

alanultron5 wrote:
It reprinted "Rudolph the Red Coat Mountie" "Sparky People" "Spoofer McGraw" "Invisible Dick" and "Mr Bubbles" in its final stages- not really the sign of a comic thriving I have to submit.


Sounds like it was reprinting as much as The Dandy. No, I hadn't realised that.

alanultron5 wrote:
Lew and I must have stopped reading it in the early 70s. A different world then as once you left school it was the `adult` world and comic's were seen as a child's thing back then. Really wish i'd kept my collection then- alas I sold them!


Well, I was still in junior school in its latter days, and do think circa '75 was one of its best eras. I like the early '70s version, too.

I wonder if the different comics really did each have their own offices at DC Thomson (Topper nipping round to Beezer to borrow a cup of sugar, etc.), and if the Sparky office was the cheeriest environment of them all? I'd like to think so.


Wed Feb 11, 2015 3:29 pm
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Raven wrote:
ISPYSHHHGUY wrote:
There were definitely reprints in the 1976-77 issues though, Raven: I bought all these copies later , picking them up cheaply in seperate runs.

We are the Sparky People definitely contained reprints [albeit good ones] in the later issues and also the very good Rudolph the Red Coat Mountie double-spreader by Mike Lacey was rerun in '76 [I think][ in black-and-white] , losing a lot compared to the impressive 1970 two-page colour spread definitive.


I hadn't realised there were quite a few reprints appearing, though D. C. Thomson seemed to be relying on reprints more in the Seventies as a general thing.
I'm not sure why they needed to reprint Sparky People - it's artist Jim Petrie was also doing Minnie the Minx for the Beano at the same time, but that was the case throughout Sparky People's run.

The Dandy certainly was using a few reprints at that time - Desperate Dan for definite, and also Black Bob? I wasn't aware that this was a common thing though - Dan was only reprints because they couldn't find anyone suitable to take over from the deceased Dudley Watkins.

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Wed Feb 11, 2015 7:44 pm
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Digifiend wrote:
The Dandy certainly was using a few reprints at that time - Desperate Dan for definite, and also Black Bob? I wasn't aware that this was a common thing though - Dan was only reprints because they couldn't find anyone suitable to take over from the deceased Dudley Watkins.


I think it was a deliberate choice to keep on with Dudley Watkins reprints rather than making a concentrated effort to find anybody else - lots of artists could have done it - but reprints in the Dandy: Desperate Dan, Black Bob - yes, Screwy Driver, Dirty Dick.

As to why they needed to reprint The Sparky People - well, I think reprints were generally to save money. Maybe when the comic wasn't selling so well, the budget went down. Or they were broadly looking to spend less, anyway.


Wed Feb 11, 2015 7:48 pm
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We are the Sparky People was also densely detailed with a large recurring cast compared to Minnie the Minx, and must have taken poor Jim twice as long to draw [ per page, that is] : I doubt if he got paid twice as much for his time, though!


Maybe he simply tired of all that endless work on the Sparky strip, and preffered to opt out of it------ which I thought was his best-ever strip, by the way.

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Wed Feb 11, 2015 8:10 pm
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I'd be surprised if an artist chose to lose that big a chunk of his weekly wage. I doubt it would have taken twice as long to draw as Minnie the Minx as the strip tended to focus on one or two characters at a time, and the panels were often half-filled, at least, with text - often Sir's bellowing!

In '75, he was also drawing those Minnie the Sparky Office Tea Lady half-pagers for the back cover. Curious that they chose the name Minnie again.


Wed Feb 11, 2015 8:36 pm
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Minnie the Minx often contained expanses of roomy white space, in both the interior and exterior views, which I thought was one of the hallmarks of that strip: Sparky People often looked busy with multiple characters, though as you say Raven sometimes they featured one or two characters, but it's the busy office with the complete cast that sticks in my memory as being more typical, like the Broons,



one very good ghoster actually turned down the Broons because of all the detail involved: We Are The Sparky People could not have been all that far behind, there are at least 7 regular characters in there , not including shots of SIR! on the golf course, with the other D C T Sirs!! which were often thrown in almost as an afterthought.



That reminds me:


SPARKY made extensive use of red ink, notably on Sir's!! agressive bellowing, and also half of the artwork on Mal Judges' Ali and his Baba for the Invisible Bodyguard.


Although it is easy to change the colour of inked lines using today's digital technology, I have wondered how exactly this was achieved in the 60s and 70s:

Did the artist usually use red ink, or was the black lines tweaked by the printers, somehow, later?


If Lew or anyone knows anything about this technique back then, I am interested to hear it.

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Wed Feb 11, 2015 9:27 pm
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ISPYSHHHGUY wrote:
one very good ghoster actually turned down the Broons because of all the detail involved: We Are The Sparky People could not have been all that far behind, there are at least 7 regular characters in there , not including shots of SIR! on the golf course, with the other D C T Sirs!!


But ... gasp ... splutter ... you can't have actually SEEN Sir!

I like those front covers featuring readers' ideas of what Sir looked like, which gave the comic a very distinctive look.


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Wed Feb 11, 2015 10:03 pm
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ISPYSHHHGUY wrote:
Did the artist usually use red ink, or was the black lines tweaked by the printers, somehow, later?
If Lew or anyone knows anything about this technique back then, I am interested to hear it.


The artist would draw everything in black ink and the art department would sort it out when they added the spot colour overlays. I think they'd highlight which lines should be dropped out as red and make pencil notes in the margins to instruct the printer.

At least that's how it was done for Oink's spot colour pages in the mid 1980s. I presume the technique was the same 15 years earlier.

('Spot colour' meaning pages that had only one colour. Acetate sheets would be placed over the artwork and areas filled in where the spot colour should go. The art dept would fill the areas with solid black but the printer would use that as the template for red or blue or whatever. If you wanted a lighter shade of colour as well, you'd fill those areas in on another acetate sheet but indicate to the printer that it should be printed at 30% or whatever was required.)

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Wed Feb 11, 2015 10:09 pm
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Sadly, in 1977 by running four repeated strip consecutively, it seems rather to me- the comic was being readied for its merger with `Topper` It did have a decent run in comparison to 70s IPC titles though!

Regarding my `criticisms` of strips like `Invisible Dick`and `P.T Bimbo` I must apologize for -perhaps-not being too clear about it just being only my view!

Just because I don't get them certainly doesn't mean its a `fact` and they aren't good! Gosh! no! certainly not! If you take "Invisible Dick" its second season was a solid SIX YEAR run! That would not have happened had not other readers enjoyed it.

I'm near certain that the vast majority of Sparky readers very much enjoyed the "Invisible Dick" strip and that I am very much a tiny minority in my dislike! Its to the comics credit- and artist Tony Speer that it was the longest run `adventure` strip in the comics history and who am I to gainsay that? I certainly respect other readers enjoyment of this and other strips that weren't for me! I am am-mending my `File` to make this clearer! I have found some of my comments rather `churlish` looking at it again. Even strips I dislike deserve better than just offhand jibes really!

The only stuff I can't really forgive is the racially naive strips such as "South Seas Suzie" and "Tess of the Taoki" today- they really come across terribly with such awful stereotyping of ethnic cultures! Most painful to read for me. Mind you, many comics (Not just at DCT) ran that type of material those days!

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Thu Feb 12, 2015 11:21 am
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Oh! I must add that artist Tony Speer certainly graced the pages of Sparky with some of its finest artwork in strips such as "The Castaway Kidds" and "The Flood that Mother Remembers" He really is on form there- just superb!

His work on "Invisible Dick" was fine- though I felt maybe he `tired` just a little by 1974.

There is one `Dick` episode in Sparky issue 349 25th September 1971 the "Potholing" episode! This is a SUPERB!! episode- for me; quite the best `Dick` ever! Tony does a sterling job of art here! I wonder what happened in the final three `Dick` strip he drew in the Sparky books? It doesn't seem like him at all to me. But, Tony Speer sure graced the comic with much magnificent artwork circa 1965-67!

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Thu Feb 12, 2015 11:28 am
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Well! It looks like i've put this `thread to bed` so to speak! Raven pondered if the comics had their own offices at DCT. According to Leo Baxendale in his superb book- in the 50s-60s- they did!

If you want an approximation of what sir looked like - try the `I.Fly` strip. Story behind this is back in the 80s I used to but comics off a stall in Walsall market. Douggie was the stallholders name. He was middle aged and hailed from Dundee. When I mentioned "Sparky" it jogged a memory with him!

He told me that he vaguely knew (Back in Dundee) a couple of characters who he said worked at DCT. They had once told him that one of the artists on "Sparky" had let slip an artist had drawn its editors features on a `Spider` character! I asked if it was in the "Freddy the Fly" strip-but he said they didn't name the strip-just that it was a Spiders face!

Anyhow! I later realised -if trur- it could be in the "I.Fly" strip. Was Douggie `joshing me? who knows- but a precedant had been set at the Beano in the "Jonah" strip where Ken Reid had drawn a character with Beano Editor George Moonie's features! So, who knows!?

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Sat Feb 14, 2015 11:09 am
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