Poetry By The Panel

Reading & Writing

Thinking further about British comics, I remember taking the Dandy, Buster, Topper, Lion, Beezer and the rest, delivered every Wednesday, along with my parents’ then-broadsheet Daily Mail. My favourite stories concerned The Steel Claw, a man with a metal hand who turned invisible (except for the hand) whenever he was electrocuted. The strip required its hero to walk into power cables at the same rate that normal people crossed the road.

There were other oddities – ‘Kelly’s Eye’, clearly not just a bingo call but an amulet that protected the wearer from harm, and ‘The Jellymen’ who invaded earth and imprisoned people in unbreakable glass bubbles.

The greatest genius of the comics age had to be the censor-baiting Ken Reid, whose intricate drawings becaame increasingly surreal and deranged. In ‘Jonah’ the hapless sailor was required to sink a ship every week, and in ‘Dare-A-Day Davey’ the hero responded to readers’ requests to do something ludicrous in each episode. Isn’t it time someone brought out the best of Reid’s work in a single collectors’ volume?

9 comments on “Poetry By The Panel”

  1. John Howard says:

    Hi admin, your recent pieces about great british comics have bought back memories for me too. Dandy and Beano were definite reads even when we, as a family, were in Malta. (Great as a kid having a father who’s job could take him to different parts of the world). Another comic that was a must was Eagle with, I think, a strip in it called “Knight of the Road” about lorry drivers driving around the country and doing various deeds of heroism. The other strip I remember was about a bunch of kids riding around on their bikes and they had two way radios and could talk to each other and arrange how they were going to solve the different problems that they encountered every week.

    Another one that has just popped into my head is The Hotspur which i’m sure had Roy of the Rovers in it. I also remember that these comics, although bought for the two of us, had to be shard with my younger brother which made for some interesting negotiations. Thanks for the memories

  2. Alan Morgan says:

    I’m a bit younger than some here I think. The weekly comic came on a Saturday in amongst the papers but for me it was Action, Battle-Action, Starlord, early 2000AD and so on. I was allowed one comic only so it went in cycles. Less larks with the reward of a post-war slap up feed than a monstrous shark with a harpoon jutting from it’s head. Beano, Dandy and so on never got a look in. Nor too did Look-In.

  3. jan says:

    You know i was just thinking about comics the other day. when i was a girl (in the early neolithic) my mum and dad allowed me for a time to have a comic called Bunty delivered on monday mornings i think. There was a serialised comic strip story about a young girl wrongfully accused of thieving who was sent as a convict to Australia and sufferred all sorts of calamaties – this story was for me just brilliant! i used to really hope the comic would arrive b4 i had to catch the bus for school. if it didn’t i would read the story from comics on display in newsagents near my secondary school! It was just mad really but you know how things catch your imagination as a kid. Its funny but in a sense for lots of people you still are that kid inside i remember when a shopping centre was built in my little town a cannonball from the civil war period was found in a culvert or drain near the site and subsequently displayed in the local library. Well i used to go and look at this thing a real piece of the past i decided in my hometown it really got to me and in a big way that excitement that strand of interest has run through my whole life ( i know this has wandered off comics a bit) but its true the person you were aged 9 is still there inside us all

  4. keith page says:

    I drew a few things for The Dandy years ago.This type of work is much more difficult than it looks and is greatly underrated in this country

  5. Alan Morgan says:

    When it’s all dead and gone Viz will still be taking the piss out of it. Even if Gilbert Ratchett is never going to be a patch on Raffles, The Gentleman Thug.

  6. Dan Terrell says:

    These comics, like some wine, must not travel well. Unfortunately, I haven’t come across a one of them. After the movie Modesty Blaze had a couple of years in the paper here. And i know Raffles. Shame.

  7. J. Folgard says:

    For anyone interested in revisiting some of those older strips, Titan books had a nice series of reprints about five years ago, including ‘The Steel Claw’, Jerry Siegel’s ‘the Spider’ (retitled ‘King of Crooks’), and a volume named ‘Albion: Origins’ that includes Kelly’s Eye, House of Dollman, Cursitor Doom and Janus Stark. They appear to be still in print and easily accessible, and they’re well produced. Cheers!

  8. Helen Martin says:

    They will not enthrall us as they would have at age ten. It’s nostalgia that gets us, a desire to let the child back out. I heard the names of those comics, mostly references in stories. Here in the colonies kids got the annuals from British Grandmothers. Not a comic but I have a Girls Own Annual from (I think) 1926 or thereabouts and I really enjoy reading bits and pieces from it every once in a while.

  9. glasgow1975 says:

    I remember my Dad telling me he used to have every copy of The Eagle from issue 1 until his mum binned them, there was a revamp in the 70s or 80s and he duly subscribed me to it, more for his benefit than mine I suspect, tho I did quite like Dan Dare, I’m surprised nobody’s worked up a movie version, it would seem to have all the right ingredients, space age derring do goody vs evil skull headed baddie – maybe if Thunderbirds & The Avengers (ours not Marvels) had not flopped so spectacularly . . .

Comments are closed.