On this day, 12 June 1971: Knockout
On this day, 12 June 1971 … ‘We, the Super Seven, pledge ourselves to the cause of Justice For School Kids Everywhere … Let the word go out throughout the land that all in trouble May Call On Us! Spread the word, kids!’ This was the rousing rallying call that ended the first episode of The Super Seven in issue one of Knockout. This was before my time, but I would occasionally get to read The Secret Seven in Knockout annuals and it always seemed to me a rather fascinating strip. I was probably at an age at which the characters (that’s Dead Eye Dick, Windy, Thunderball, Wanda Wheels, Stinker, Booter and Whistler) seemed a bit older than me – a proper gang who could go out together without adults, and bring justice to the pavements, playgrounds and school yards of seventies Britain. They even had their own motor! I loved that they each had their own gifting – Dick was ‘the greatest ink pellet twanger in the world’, Windy could blow the biggest bubble gum bubbles, Thunderball could ping a marble through a brick wall, Wanda had the wheels, Stinker had the stinks, Booter had a harder shot than Hot-shot Hamish and Whistler could whistle really, really loudly. Frankly, they had it all covered.
A few days ago I looked at the launch issue of Cor!!, IPC’s first new humour comic of the 1970s, so it’s interesting to see this, the second to be launched. Knockout was aimed at a lower-priced market, and used the same title as a comic previously published by one of IPC/Fleetway’s predecessor companies, Amalgamated Press, between 1939 and 1963. This seventies version would last only two years before merging into Whizzer and Chips, but has a strong legacy as the original home of some of the longest-running and best-remembered IPC characters such as Pete’s Pockets, Fuss Pot and Joker – scenes from the very first episodes of each of these gems can be seen below. The Toffs and the Toughs on the centre pages was another classic, and I’ve only now noticed that one of the characters on the Toffs side was Milly O’Naire. I guess there’s no way of proving this, but I like to think that this is the same Milly who later got her own series alongside Penny Less in the pages Jackpot and then Buster. She has similar hair to the later Milly, just as ‘Fluff’, of the Toughs, has similar hair to Penny – so it all makes sense to me.