Sunday, 31 January 2016


Fifty years ago, back at the end of January, a new comic periodical
debuted in Britain - SMASH!  It was the sister publication to WHAM!,
launched a year and a half earlier in June of 1964.  That's the cover of the
first issue above, just in case you ignore the pictures and immerse your-
selves in my award-winning, witty and absorbing writing style, the envy
of many a blogger across the land.  (What award?  Well, you award it
your full attention, don't you?  That's a big enough award for me!)

Guess what 'though?  I haven't yet scanned the complete contents of
Smash! #1, but a few years ago, I presented a three-part series of the
contents of issue #2.  So being a benevolent sort of fella, I decided to
show them again, but this time complete in one post to save you the
inconvenience of keeping track of three separate instalments.

So what are you waiting for?  Wonderment aplenty lies ahead!


Something you won't know is that the ODHAMS PRESS bound
volume of the first 50 issues of SMASH! didn't include #2.  It wasn't
pulled out later - it was simply missing when the comics were gathered
for binding.  Luckily, I have a spare copy of that 2nd collectors' classic
(as I do of #1 also) - and it too is an Odhams file copy, the one with
details of who did what and how much they got paid for doing it.

If I recall correctly, I had practically a full year's worth of these
issues, each with a label on every strip noting the financial facts and
creative cast of those involved.  (Odhams kept two sets - one with labels
and one without, and I was given both.)  I gave the labelled ones away,
but retained #2 so that I could transplant it into my unlabelled volume
and complete the set.  First, 'though, I carefully steamed off the labels
to conserve the information for comics historians everywhere.

So, enjoy reading some sensational strips from one of Britain's
brightest comics of the '60s, and indulge your curiosity at how much
the contributors got paid for their labours.  Sadly, there just aren't as
many opportunities available nowadays for budding cartoonists, as
weekly comics (with the exception of The BEANO) are mainly
a thing of the past. 

So gaze upon these pages of Smash! and recall a time in the
nation's history when seemingly countless high-circulation comic
periodicals for girls and boys proliferated all across the country.
Sadly, it appears unlikely that we shall see such times again.


(And in case you wonder why THE GHOST PATROL was
'free', it's because it was a retitled reprint of THE PHANTOM
PATROL from SWIFT, a few years before.)



One factor that may have led to ATLAS/SEABOARD
titles burning out so quickly was that, originally, boss MARTIN
GOODMAN intended to release only about five new colour comic-
books (plus some b&w mags), but changed his mind at the last min-
ute and ordered around 20.  Having to suddenly come up with that
many new titles doesn't really lend itself to ensuring a high-quality
product, and another probable factor was the change of direc-
tion in some titles after only the first or second issue before
the sales figures had come in on the earlier ones.

If Goodman hadn't been so consumed with a desire for
revenge against CADENCE for the way they'd treated his son,
he may have approached matters with a wiser, cooler head, and
had a better chance of being a serious contender.  As it was, some
of the titles were dreamt up a little too hastily, and tried too hard to
look like what was already on the stands by other publishers.  The
irony is, of course, that had Cadence/Marvel not dispensed with
Goodman Jr.'s services, then it's most unlikely that Goodman Sr.
would've felt motivated to re-enter the publishing world and
Atlas (Mark 2) would never have been born.

You can all make up your own minds on whether that
would've been a good or a bad thing, but, personally, I'm
glad we got to see The GRIM GHOST.  That's the only title
I thought showed promise and I wish it'd got a longer run than
it did.  Thing is, you can't kill a ghost, so who knows?  He may
come back to haunt us one day.  (He's already had another
stab at it, you know - back in 2010.)

Part six coming soon.  Feel free to share your thoughts
and feelings in our ever-lovin' comments section.


Here we are with part four, and it's interesting to note that
no ATLAS/SEABOARD title ever made it past its fourth issue - 
with quite a few of them not making it even that far!  That may have
made it easier for collectors to acquire full sets, but it also deprived
them of the joy of anticipating the next issue, so a bit of a mixed bag
in that respect.  A few years ago, there was an attempt to revive
some of the Atlas characters, but the second time around was
even less successful than the first.  Third time lucky?

What was your favourite Atlas comic and why?  Don't hold
back - extoll its virtues to the heavens in the comments section.
And remember to come back for the next instalment.

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