Comic Memories – Buster.

After having a look back at some comics published by DC Thomson, now here’s my first review of a comic published by Fleetway. Buster launched in May 1960 and featured the adventures of a boy who was supposedly the son of Andy Capp. I’ll write more about the history of Buster soon, but the issue that I’ll be reviewing for this piece (14 April 1990) is more significant than I realised at the time.

I still remember the first time I bought Buster. I was in a shop and noticed that it had a free gift of a badge on the cover so I bought it on a whim. It was the first time that I had bought a comic from Fleetway after reading The Beano and The Dandy for a year or two and I’m really pleased that I made the decision as it helped me to become familiar with their characters and Fleetway’s other comics including Whizzer And Chips.

Although I didn’t realise it at the time the first issue that I bought was a relaunch of Buster. It was the first one to feature the new masthead that would appear on the cover until the final issue in 1999, it was the first to feature the Buster strip drawn by Jim Hansen who replaced Tom Paterson, it was the first to cost 40p, and it was also the first to be “all-colour”, although that wasn’t strictly true of the strips.

I actually threw a lot of comics away after about five years of collecting them which was rather daft of me, but by a great coincidence I managed to find another copy of the first Buster I bought in a charity shop a few years ago. Here’s a review of this 32-page issue, plus a few pictures of some strips. buster0001

Pages 1 & 32: Buster. Our green flat-capped hero, Jim Hansen drew Buster in a similar style to Tom Paterson for his first strip, but this would soon change.

Page 2: Ricky Rainbow. A boy who could magically change colour, who had an enemy called Bruiser.

Page 3: Tom Thug’s Skooldayz. This amusing strip first appeared in the short-lived Oink! which merged with Buster in 1988.

Page 4: School Belle. The adventures of an attractive schoolgirl. I always enjoyed the “Know Your Nurks” part of this strip. buster0002

Page 5: Melvyn’s Mirror. A boy enters a fantasy world where everything is in reverse by jumping through his mirror.

Page 6: Rodney and Dez. I think that there might be a slight Only Fools And Horses influence to this strip. buster0003

Page 7: Brain Busters. A puzzle page. Spot the difference and win £5!

Pages 8 & 9: X-Ray Specs. A boy with magical glasses who was always up to something.

Page 10: BeastendersA horror-based parody of EastEnders, set in Albert Scare.

Page 11: Mad MacA character who likes to ride around on his motorbike in search of adventure.

Pages 12 & 13: Vid KidA boy with a magical remote control, drawn by my favourite comic strip artist J. Edward Oliver. jeo0005

Pages 12 & 13: Dear Buster. The letters page. If you’re published you win £2! There’s also a chance to win Supergran tapes.

Page 14: The Vampire Brats. A strip drawn featuring two vampire children.

Page 15: Adam AdmanA strip about a boy called Adam who is fascinated by adverts? It isn’t based on me, honest. buster0004

Pages 16 & 17: Captain CrucialA colourful double-page spread for the superhero. “The craziest characters are always in Buster comic!”

Page 18: Dracula Dobbs. A boy who can’t help but turn into a vampire. Well, we’ve all been there.

Page 19: Chalky. A boy with a talent for drawing pictures with his chalks.

Page 20: Test Yourself. A personality quiz where you answer the questions. This week: “are you a fusspot?”.

Page 21: An advert for the next new-look issue, which features a free gift of a Flying Dinosaur Glider.

Page 22: The Winners. A family who always enter competitions and win.

Page 23: Double Trouble. The bickering brother and sister Jon and Suzy.  buster0005

Pages 24 & 25: The Leopard From Lime StreetAn exciting adventure story.

Page 26: Just JellyIn 1986 Buster gained a new bunch of extra characters in his strip, this one got his own spin-off.

Page 27: Chalky’s Joke Pad. Eight jokes appear on the page. Seven win £2, but if Chalky picks you as his “golden gag” you win £5! buster0006

Pages 28 & 29: Ivor Lott and Tony Broke with Milly O’Naire and Penny Less. Two groups of characters in an endless “rich v poor” battle.

Page 30: Buster’s Pinboard. A page which features pictures and jokes sent in by readers.

Page 31: Nightmare On Erm StreetA boy called Freddy and his spooky adventures, another parody.

CITV Memories – Dr Zitbag’s Transylvania Pet Shop.

Dr Zitbag’s Transylvania Pet Shop (CITV, 1994-1997)

Dr Zitbag’s Transylvania Pet Shop was a rather daft horror-style cartoon that was shown regularly on CITV in the mid-90s. The idea was that our hero mad scientist-type character monster thing Dr Sydney Zitbag is sacked from his job one day for being useless so he decides to buy an old haunted castle in Transylvania and start his own business of a rather creepy pet shop. vlcsnap-00357

Of course, it is all rather chaotic with a wide variety of strange animals for sale that Dr Zitbag has created. There were also lot of weird characters in the show. These included Dr Zitbag’s dozy sidekick Horrifido who was the ghost of a dog and Zombunny the zombie rabbit. vlcsnap-00402

Other characters included the local policeman Officer Deadbeat who was always trying to capture Dr Zitbag and his head somehow seemed to float in the air. There were also Dr Zitbag’s neighbours the Frankenstein Monster-esque twins Sinista and Bimbella who were better known as the exorsisters, ho-ho. vlcsnap-00403

The opening and closing theme song was also very catchy and enjoyable. Dr Zitbag also had a horrid bright green spot on the end of his nose which always looked like it was about to burst and his catchphrase was “oh, globules!”. (Indeed, the show originated in France with the name Dr Globule.) vlcsnap-00404

One of the good things about this show was that there was a double page spin-off strip in the comic Buster from 1994 to 1996. It added some more to the show and it was a great addition to Buster which was a comic that I was very fond of at the time and I’ll write more about its history in a future piece. sydney0001

I remember watching this show a lot on CITV because once again it was rather odd and funny. I even went as far as to record an episode in 1995 which I watched again recently and lots of memories came back. It hasn’t come out on DVD and it hasn’t been repeated for many years on CITV. Maybe they should set up a CITV Gold channel and finally repeat all these old shows, I’d definitely watch that. What a brilliant idea.