Ah, Sparky - a comic that ended before I was born, and that I've only recently been able to "get into" properly through the wonders of eBay. There was always reprints before then, of course - through Classics From The Comics and the various annual hardbacks put out by DC Thomson under the Dandy Beano banner (or The Beano & The Dandy in more recent years).
One such annual, published in 1993 and given the title of Magic Moments is possibly my favourite of the lot. Here it is:
Got this on Christmas Day, 1993 (get it yourself for a penny - another last minute gift idea!). A big colourful book collecting memorable (or just plain good) bits from the Beano, Dandy, Beezer, Topper and Sparky, including a whole bunch of festive-themed bits for each comic. I've been reading this book every December now for a good few years - it's like a nostalgic look back at a book full of nostalgia (ha!). Anyway, this book is, as far as I can remember, where I first encountered anything to do with Sparky. And here are several of the Xmassy-Sparky strips that are featured in this book:
Gordon Bell's Spoofer McGraw there (every single one of these is a classic) - that fireside chat in the opening panel remains one of the cosiest scenes I've ever seen in a comic.
Dreamy Daniel (also from Gordon Bell), like the Beano's Les Pretend only with less costumes and more dangerous departations from reality (his Easter-based adventure in the same book's also a goody, but it's not Easter right now so we're not allowed to talk about it).
Malcolm Judge's Baron Von Reichs-Pudding - an aerial battle between the Kaiser's dopiest baron and Father Christmas himself. Great punchline on this one!
John Geering's Puss an' Boots - not only does it look the business, the dialogue's just as hilarious as the drawings (particularly Puss's plea of "DON'T HIT ME!").
L-Cars, a couple of inept (yet ingenious) police officers from Bill Hill - nice little twist at the end of this one.
The thing with Sparky (L-Cars and Puss an' Boots in particular) is that the characters are a lot less one-dimensional than their contemporaries - Puss an' Boots go through extremes of rage, cowardice and sarcasm, whilst Cedric and Frederic of the L-Cars go through childlike idealism, utter despair and, occasionally, moments of true heroism. Sort of like comparing Bugs Bunny to Mickey Mouse, in a way. Providing we survive the end of the world and make it through to 2013, I endeavour to get more Sparky into my life!