On this day, 23 February 1980: Speed
On this day, 23 February 1980 … Speed, along with Cor!!, Whizzer and Chips, Starlord, Wildcat, School Fun and Score ‘n’ Roar, was one of several cracking Class B drugs that one could purchase behind the bike sheds of Crowe Street Comp, Krazytown, in the 1970s and 1980s. Sadly my pocket money was fairly average by nine-years-old standards and I was also just getting into football stickers at this time, so I can’t comment on whether or not the hit was ‘super-charged with thrills’, nor whether it climbed, swooped, turned or looped. However, I was fortunate enough to have read and collected the entire eight-month run of the new IPC comic of the same name, which gave me a different kind of kick.
This was my first ‘older child’s’ comic, so it felt pretty special to me. I guess I must have been attracted to it by an ad in Jackpot because I asked for it from the off, but whether I was drawn in by the promise of more adventurous stories or by the high-speed piece of red plastic flying off the front cover I can’t recall. I do remember embracing the comic once I’d started reading it, however. Journey to the Stars drawn by Ron Turner was my favourite – the Lost in Space-style story of a family who stumble onto an alien spaceship full of mysterious corridors – and my imagination was also captured by Quick on the Draw (a young native American boy seeks revenge, one by one, on the gang of outlaws that killed his family), Death Wish (racing driver whose face is burned in a plane crash takes on extreme challenges in the hope that one will kill him), Baker’s Half-dozen (tough sarge with a hidden past leads a rag-tag platoon of World War Two misfits through enemy lines in North Africa) and The Fastest Footballer on Earth (Fourth Division no-hopers sign super-speedy player who was brought up by monkeys in Africa). In hindsight, the story concepts are all a bit hackneyed but they were executed well and boasted strong, engaging characters. It was a good read, and certainly enhanced Tiger when the two comics merged in late October.
I’m pleased to have the free speed plane that came with this first issue. I’d thought that it and the first issue itself were my own actual possessions from when I was nine, but I can see from the boy who filled in the ‘A Week in Speed’ section that I must have bought this some time ago on eBay. What about that D. Pierre though? The fastest thing he did all week was fix two pieces of LEGO together. He’d probably dropped a bit too much Whoopee!, supplied by ‘Tex’.