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Sparky after Sparky 
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Although Sparky ended as a comic in its own right in July 1977 this did not strictly mean the end of the comic. For the next three years it occupied the middle four tabloid pages of the 'Topper and Sparky', with the middle four tabloid pages being folded and cut to create an eight page pull-out section devoted to the Sparky characters.
This section from Topper lasted from issue No 1276(16/7/77) to 1439(30/8/80) the final tabloid Topper of all, and was a not insignificant 164 'issue' addition to the history of Sparky.
Details to follow.


Mon Mar 02, 2015 4:33 pm
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I think there was a Topper and Sparky annual issued as late as 1981.

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Tue Mar 03, 2015 9:49 am
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Did the eight page pull-out section mainly tend to feature reprints?

I expect that'll be covered in the "details to follow", which I look forward to.


Tue Mar 03, 2015 12:08 pm
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I was amazed that the `Sparky People` strip was threre as surely it had to end when `Sparky` ended! Be interested to know if Professor Pott ever got rid of his Blob though!

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Tue Mar 03, 2015 3:34 pm
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alanultron5 wrote:
I was amazed that the `Sparky People` strip was threre as surely it had to end when `Sparky` ended!


Well, they still had to produce the pull-out supplement. Must have been an embarrassing demotion for Sir, though.


Tue Mar 03, 2015 4:04 pm
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When the first edition of 'The Special Sparky Pull-out' appeared as the tabloid Topper's centre pages in Topper No1276(16/7/77), creating an eight page supplement by folding the middle tabloid section in half and cutting along the inside edge, the Sparky characters that made the transition were as follows.
Hungry Horace - Albert Holroyd
We Are the Sparky People - Jim Petrie
L Cars - Bill Hill
Puss an' Boots - John Geering
Ali's Baba - Mal Judge
Thingummy Blob - Albert Holroyd
Peter Piper - Vic Neill
The seven strips accomodating the eight pages as 'Puss an' Boots occupied the two pages that formed the coloured centre spread.
Initially there was no reprinting but as time went on some of the strips did revert to using old material and some strips also changed artist eg Peter Piper who, as well as Vic Neill, was also drawn by Bill Hill and Trevor Metcalfe in this period.


Tue Mar 03, 2015 4:32 pm
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The content of the 'Sparky' pull-out remained the same until Topper issue 1357(3/2/79) in which issue both 'We Are the Sparky People' and 'L Cars' came to an end
and in the following issue they were replaced by the adventure strip 'The Mini Martins' which ran until No 1382(28/7/79). This strip which occupied the full colour centre spread of the supplement, demoting 'Puss an' Boots' to a single two-colour page, was drawn by Ken Hunter and was new, it being a sequel to a strip that had appeared in Sparky a number of years previously with the same title. The new strip beginning with the preamble 'Older Sparky readers will remember the power mad Professor Slaughter....'
More to follow.


Tue Mar 03, 2015 4:48 pm
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Kashgar wrote:
Initially there was no reprinting but as time went on some of the strips did revert to using old material ...


So The Sparky People went from being reprint in Sparky from late '76-77 according to alanultron5, back to being new again for the Topper pull-out supplement?

It would seem to be much less cost-efficient for D.C. Thomson to have eight pages of material over four pages, so I wonder how they justified that. They may have had lots of left-over material from Sparky, initially, but the supplement went on for just over three years.


Tue Mar 03, 2015 4:55 pm
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Raven wrote:
Kashgar wrote:
Initially there was no reprinting but as time went on some of the strips did revert to using old material ...


So The Sparky People went from being reprint in Sparky from late '76-77 according to alanultron5, back to being new again for the Topper pull-out supplement?

It would seem to be much less cost-efficient for D.C. Thomson to have eight pages of material over four pages, so I wonder how they justified that. They may have had lots of left-over material from Sparky, initially, but the supplement went on for just over three years.


The 'We are the Sparky People' strip soon reverted to reprint but there were a few original ones in there, while strips like Hungry Horace remained basically new throughout its run in the pull-out. I think in the end the strips in the supplement were arranged so that half of the pages were new while the other half were reprint to accomodate the very cost-efficiency you mention.


Tue Mar 03, 2015 5:35 pm
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The main significance of the Sparky continuation through TOPPER is the [presumably] surfeit of brand-new Puss and Boots material, which I never actually saw at the time, but John Geerings' artwork was at an absolute apex in the late 70s and I regret missing out on this material [assuming it was continued original material: can you confirm this please, kashgar?] as the artwork on these characters he done for the 1980 SPARKY anual [likely drawn in 1978] was truly stunning quality.

[the same annual contains some good very early Puss and Boots strips reprinted from the comic]

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Wed Mar 04, 2015 10:03 am
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It's rather rare for a comic, that has been discontinued in its own right, to publish strips featuring new characters but the Sparky, thanks to the supplement format, did exactly this. The first of these was 'Freddie Stare - look at him if you dare!' with artwork by Jim Petrie which replaced Jim's 'We Are the Sparky People' in issue No1358(10/2/79) and ran until No 1439(30/8/80) the final issue of the supplement.
And the second was 'Tom and Terry' drawn by Bob McGrath which replaced 'Puss an' Boots' in No1395(27/10/79) and which ran until Topper No1872(17/12/88) well after the Sparky supplement had ceased to be.


Fri Mar 06, 2015 5:42 pm
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most interesting! I presume `Tom and Jerry` not the TV cartoon duo? It sounds as though they were an ersatz `Puss & Boots`

`Freddy Stare` would younger readers have twigged the pun? `Fred Astaire`

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Sat Mar 07, 2015 11:00 am
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alanultron5 wrote:
most interesting! I presume `Tom and Jerry` not the TV cartoon duo? It sounds as though they were an ersatz `Puss & Boots`

`Freddy Stare` would younger readers have twigged the pun? `Fred Astaire`


I think it was perhaps more Freddie Starr, than Fred Astaire Alan.
'Tom and Terry' featured a couple of warring twins, Terry being a girl in case you wondered.
Now, back to Sparky supplement. After 'The Mini-Martins' concluded it was replaced in the colour centre-spread by an old Topper reprint from 1959 titled 'Journey to the Lost Land' with artwork provided by H R Platt. It ran in issues 1383(4/8/79) to 1403(22/12/79). Then, on its conclusion, the centre-spread was taken over by a coloured, edited Sparky reprint of the 1969 'Klanky' series drawn by Terry Patrick which ran from issue No 1404(29/12/79) to 1421(26/4/80).
Then, finally, when Klanky concluded the centre-spread, from issue No1422(3/5/80), was taken over by a single page Hungry Horace, who had moved from the front cover, and a new puzzle page titled 'Tom and Terry's Teasers'. Hungry Horace's place on the front cover having been taken by reprints of 'Barney Bulldog' drawn by Bill Ritchie. The contents of the supplement would then remain unchanged til its demise in issue No1439(30/8/80).


Sat Mar 07, 2015 11:52 am
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After the Topper reduced to 'normal' comic proportions and the seperate Sparky supplement was dropped four of the seven comic strips it contained made the leap into the new-size Topper itself. These were 'Hungry Horace', 'Ali's Baba', 'Peter Piper' and 'Tom and Terry' while 'Thingummyblob', 'Freddie Stare' and 'Barney Bulldog' all ended in the final supplement in No1439(30/8/80).
'Ali's Baba' and 'Peter Piper' would both eventually end in Topper No1870(3/12/88) with 'Tom and Terry' then ending a copule of weeks later in Topper No1872(17/12/88)
leaving 'Hungry Horace' as the only Sparky strip to make it to the Topper's final issue No1963(15/9/90).


Sat Mar 07, 2015 12:06 pm
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Kashgar wrote:
I think it was perhaps more Freddie Starr, than Fred Astaire Alan.
Sometime in late 1966 I think, or possibly early 1967, our folk group were on a bill headed by Freddie Starr for a week in a Warrington cabaret club. One night when we turned up to get changed there was a great big hole in the dressing room door. Who had rammed his fist through it after his performance the previous night? Well. let's put it this way, it wasn't Fred Astaire.


Sat Mar 07, 2015 2:42 pm
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