Big Comic Fortnightly (1988-1995)
This will be a piece looking at all the additional fortnightly/monthly/annually comics released by Fleetway along with the weekly ones that I have already reviewed. Big Comic Fortnightly launched in June 1988, promising to offer readers big value. 52 pages of fun for 35p, wow, what a bargain!
Although actually it wasn’t that much of a bargain as it first seemed, as all of the strips in Big Comic Fortnightly were reprints from Fleetway’s range of comics including Cor!!, Jackpot, and Whoopee, most of which had long since closed by the time Big Comic Fortnightly had launched. Also, in March 1989, Fleetway launched Funny Fortnightly, which was almost exactly the same really with its reprints, and again it was 52 pages for 35p.
Also around this time there were a few other monthly comics from Fleetway, including The Best Of Buster, The Best Of Whoopee, and The Best Of Whizzer And Chips. Again, these only consisted of reprints from the archive, but there was also the occasional free gift given away and competition. Although I used to read it fairly regularly, unfortunately I now only have one issue of Big Comic Fortnightly in my collection, I didn’t keep all of my comics from when I was younger because I am daft.
For me, it is a shame that the Fleetway characters haven’t entered the public consciousness like the majority of DC Thomson ones have, most of which continue to this day. There was a great range of characters, including Faceache, Odd Ball, X-Ray Specs, and many others, and I do feel that any of them could match Dennis The Menace and co. for how much they enhanced my childhood with their adventures. There were also lots of great artists who drew the strips, including Tom “acting daft ‘cos he’s in a comic” Paterson, the terrific talent behind lots of strips including Sweeny Toddler, and others including the great Ken Reid and Robert Nixon, and I feel they really do deserve more appraisal for their work.
By the mid-90s though, Fleetway’s fortunes were beginning to fade. All of the monthly comics closed, and the annuals came to an end too. By the end of their lifetimes Big Comic Fortnightly and Funny Fortnightly (which had doubled in price by this point) had both been relaunched as Big Comic Monthly (now with 100 pages) and Funny Monthly, a sure sign that they were beginning to run out of steam, and indeed they had both closed by 1995. Where now for the mighty Pongo Snodgrass?
There was one last attempt to keep the monthly comics going, with The Best Of Buster relaunching as Buster Classics, and all the others being merged into one as Big Value Comic. This comic even featured a few pages in colour and everything, plus for the first time an original strip, but it had closed by 1996, leaving only Buster, which was a fortnightly comic by this point and also full of reprints, to struggle on until the end of the decade which was a very unsatisfactory ending for this era of comics.