Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Monster Fun!

This short-lived (72 issue) British comic series by Fleetway was chock full of fun strips themed around monsters, spooks and freaks... not unlike the publishers' previous effort Shiver And Shake (more on that later). The creepy wisecracks in Monster Fun still hold up, and I'm a fan and collector of these musty old mags and Annuals. British comics are funny in that they seemed to be always merging and mutating... a sort of survival-of-the-fittest strips. The first Monster Fun Annual appeared in late 1976, about the time of the comic's merger with Buster, and in spite of the loss of the weekly publication, the annuals were produced until 1985. Go figure. Some of my favourite strips here are Draculass (by Terry Bave), about a fiendish little bloodsucker who lives with a regular English family, and can't seem to catch a meal to save her unlife. Another beautifully bizarre strip was Thomas Williams' Creature Teacher, who was a big bug-eyed mass of monster gelatine created by the Science Teacher at Massacre Street School to teach the unruly members of Class 3X... a weird and wonderful cross between The Bash Street Kids and Big Daddy Roth! Kid Kong (by Robert Nixon), the son of you-know-who... was a big, dumb, lovable, 'nana-gobbling ape with a heart of gold and a child's view of the world. After escaping the circus, Kid came to live with Granny Smith, a shortsighted, half-deaf biddy who mistook him for an overgrown child and treated him as such. I also liked Gums, a very au currant (circa 1970's) comic about a great white shark who keeps loosing his false teeth! The very best, though, was a strip that had been around since 1964. Frankie Stein started out at rival publishing house Odhams, which was later bought out by Fleetway, who first gave Frankie a spot in the aforementioned Shiver amd Shake before his move to Monster Fun. This silly take on Frankenstein's Monster starred a fun-loving, kind-hearted Frankie who lived with his mad scientist father Professor Cube at Mildew Manor. Poor old Frankie didn't know his own strength and constantly ended up trashing everything around him. He was also blissfully ignorant of the fact that 'Dad' was forever scheming up ways in which to rid himself of his infuriating 'offspring', plans which inevitably backfired with chaotic results. Kid Kong's Robert Nixon did a wonderful job in popularizing Frankie during his Monster Fun run, but I still prefer the look of the original strips by artist Ken Reid. You can read the very first Frankie Stein strip by Ken right here at Comics UK. I'll leave this looong post with a fabulously freaky Ken Reid monsterpiece from 1973... sleep tight! Much of the background info reported here is from the indispensable Toonhound