Oops, and suddenly it's October. I was planning one more "rude" comic, then a clever segue sort of thing into some seasonal "spooky" stuff... If I get my arse into gear, it COULD still happen, but something presented itself this morning (or yesterday?) that couldn't be left languishing on the hard drive. It's this thing here:
An unpublished comic from Fleetway! Not the kind of thing any sensible comic-enjoyer should ignore, certainly not. According to a Mr. McScotty of the Comics UK forums, this was a mock-up of sorts, tried out on the kids of several Glasgow primary schools, around 1991-ish. It never went any further than that, but ask and you shall receive...
Over to Lew Stringer:
Oh No!! was the brainchild of cartoonists Dave King and Ian Ellery (hence the alias 'Ellery King') who had met with Fleetway to discuss packaging a new humour comic for them. Fleetway okayed the idea and Dave and Ian put together a 32 page dummy issue with contributions from many other creators including myself.
Fleetway printed a very small run of the comic (perhaps about 200, I forget) and did some market research at schools. The reactions were very positive indeed. Oh No!! was totally different to any children's comic of the time. It had no house style, no adherence to formula, and was closer in style to Oink! but without the rude bits or pig theme. The fact that it did have its own identity is one thing that the kids liked. (For example, when asked to put the comic on top of other comics they thought were similar, the kids created a new space for it.)
Everything was looking good. Dave and Ian even booked a hotel for us to have a pre-launch get together with all the other creators. Fleetway were keen to do this new comic. The mood at the pre-launch was very optimistic.
And then things went pear-shaped. A change of management (I think this is when Egmont took over, - not 100% sure) suddenly put the project on hold. And it never happened. Not attributing any blame. It just wasn't the sort of comic the new owners wanted to do. They wanted licensed properties, not creator-owned new characters.
It came so close though...
If copies are in circulation they must be the ones given to the school for market research or contributor's copies. It was never distributed to shops or to anyone outside of Fleetway & the research team.
And now, just under a year after I first enquired about this oddity, along comes someone by the name of Alfie. He kindly scanned in his entire dummy copy for the folk of the forums to take a gander at, and now he's only gone and sent me some super-high-quality scans of it all. And here it is!
We start with the introductory page, and some letters (fictional, obviously) - it's a bit odd about its intended audience, as you'll see:
And then it's onto the comics! First up is the fantastic-looking S.C.U.M. Squad, by Andy Lanning and John Carnell.
Fans of Bucky O'Hare might notice something a bit familiar about that submarine there...
Lew Stringer's Dick Yampy is up next, your typical "idiot" character:
Followed by the first of more-than-one high quality Tom Paterson things... Little Zzod - He's slightly odd!
The distinctly futuristic/alternate universe feel of Oh No!! continues with Dinner Ladies In Space, by Julie Hollings:
Dave King's very own Dr. Facsimile is next, with this cautionary tale:
Anyone remember that short-lived magazine about British comics called Crikey!? And to anyone that does, remember that thing at the end of most issues? Well it's here too:
Followed by more space-age Paterson-penned fun!
Bringing things back to the "real world" now, sort of, with Ian Ellery's Kansas Kevin:
Something of the non-comic variety now, that being this quiz thing asking whether you're a werewolf, an atomic scientist or a rock. It amuses me.
The biggest surprise (for me, at least) was finding a Phil Baber piece in there! Typically bizarre, he's the king:
A few more bits by Ian Ellery now (or Ellery King, if we're going by his pseudonym) - more in the vein of Oink! or Acne but less rude/pig-based:
Dancefloor Dez is a bit of an oddity compared to the rest of what we have here, with references to bouncers, aftershave, clubs and all the other stuff that primary school kids shouldn't really know about, much less care about. It's by Mike Nicholson and Seb Buccheri:
Back in the realms of "That's more like it!" is this King and Ellery collaboration thing, the hyper-colourful Daughter of Duckzilla Meets the Astrozombies - I love it!
Here's Glenn B. Flemming's Hatch thing again:
And another alien-themed thing from Tom Paterson! This one's Mega-Belly, the fattest boy in the universe:
A few Oink!-style mini-strips now, courtesy of the editors. Monsters in particular I really like, and I "wouldn't mind" seeing a few more of that:
Something a bit unexpected towards the end now - Mr. Movie and Dr. Video talking about new films and videos. In particular, The Rocketeer, some Doctor Who things and the Beetlejuice cartoons.
A nice enough idea, but there can't be that many little'uns who'd be interested in a wall of text like that when they're reading a comic.
Last up, on the back cover, is Lew Stringer again with Lance Boyle, Secret Agent:
So... How to conclude things? It's a tragic shame this never made it out, is all I can say. In terms of "alternative" kids' comics, it's easily equal to the more successful ones like Oink! and Acne (maybe superior in the latter's case), and of a much higher quality than the non-starters such as Fizog, Triffik!, It's Wicked!, The Big Greenie and The Bog Paper. Ah well.
Oh, if anyone wants any BIGGER scans of these pages, click here.
And thanks again to Alfie!