Friday, 26 August 2016

Badtime Bedtime Books



Badtime Bedtime Books were a splendiferous idea. They were 'extra' comics stuck in the centre of Monster Fun, being the middle four pages that you had to cut out, fold over to make an eight page book, then sneak upstairs to read under the bedcovers when your parents weren't looking.
They were originally written and drawn by the legendary Leo Baxendale, and unlike usual 'extra' stuff like, say, a Robin story in the back of Batman, actually did feel like you were getting something extra special.
Each story was new and unique, and were usually a lite-horror spin on an old classic or current pop-culture icon ( eg. Robinson Gruesome, Trouser Island, Dr. Poo and the must read with that title I Spy With My Little Guy )
The only semi-regular character was this guy, copy boy Leonard Rottingsocks, who Baxendale originally wanted to call Leonard Rottingcorpse, until dissuaded otherwise:


Far from being something you saved till later, Badtime Badtime Books was probably the strip you turned to first, like an infection that had invaded Monster Fun, it being just that little bit nastier and weirder than the rest of the comic.
For instance, want to sleep well tonight? Don't read Punch & Chewday then.


Here's a great example: Marzipan & The Japes.










Tuesday, 23 August 2016

E-Man: The City Swallower



Time to see what comic's most lovable superhero is up to on this hot summer's day. Well, like all right thinking people, E-Man and Nova are down on the beach. Wait, is there a beach near the Charlton offices? Well, this is E-Man, anything's possible.

















Monday, 22 August 2016

Mandrake The Magician



Another Tempo book. Another classic newspaper strip reprinted. Mandrake The Magician is seen by some as the first superhero, coming before both Superman and creator Lee Falk's other great hero The Phantom.
Me, I'm plumping for The Ghost Who Walks. Even if you exclude Doc Savage & The Shadow ( and you can't really ), The Phantom was the first to put on a mask and a costume.
Well, Mandrake sort of has a costume. Since the '40's he's appeared in the archetypal stage magician's outfit of top hat and tails, regardless of the situation. But that's ok, I like the fact that, in this era of re-jigging and reinventing, Mandrake is one character who never got an unsuitable, inappropriate updating.


Mandrake fights crime with the use of his super hypnotic powers, convincing evildoers he's capable of all kinds of crazy stuff:


And with the aid of his multi-cultural buddies Lothar & Hojo:



And most beautiful girl in the galaxy Narda, along with Lothar's main squeeze Karma, both gals seeming to spend an inordinate amount of time lounging around by the pool, presumably so that artist Fred Fredericks has an ongoing excuse to draw them in bikinis:


Mandrake is a light, frothy souffle of a strip, set in a world where no one ever really gets hurt, and nothing really bad ever happens. And the more Mandrake you read, the more you realize what a truly great newspaper strip it is, and what a great cartoonist Frederick was.
Here, from the Tempo collection is the second strip where, as seemed to happen regularly, a spoiled despot tries to claim Narda as his own, without asking her or Mandrake first.