On this day, 28 June 1980: Speed
On this day, 28 June 1980 … Six weeks ago I featured the issue of Speed previous to this one, and it included the following message from editor Dave Hunt:
‘Last month, I said in my Ed’s Chat that I was working with my Group Editor, Barrie Tomlinson, on a highly secret project that would, when we revealed all the details, be of great interest to SPEED readers.
‘Well, the time is drawing near for the Top Secret project to be known to all … in fact that time is next week’s exciting issue. So don’t, whatever else happened, miss your copy. I can promise you it’s a highly original scheme which will be enjoyed by lots of you.’
I won’t hear a word said against valid industrial action, especially that taking place under a Thatcher government, but do feel sympathy for Dave as his big announcement was delayed until 28 June when Speed reappeared. I wonder how much readership momentum this fledgling comic lost during the six-week gap between its thirteenth and fourteenth issues – in subscription levels, newsagents’ shelf-space and in reader interest and engagement with its seven continuing serials – and whether it was considered to be a contributing factor to Speed’s cancellation and merge into Tiger just five months later.
The Big News, it was finally revealed, was the announcement of a nationwide treasure hunt. Over the following weeks various clues would be published hinting at the locations of six buried caches of all sorts of goodies, each haul including: £200 cash, a Subbuteo Stadium Edition (I would have loved that!), a stopwatch, a pair of rollerskates, various Corgi models, and, er, ‘Anti-missile rockets’. I wonder if a young Hans Blix took part in the great hunt.
I do remember this big announcement, and the attention devoted to it in Speed over the subsequent weeks. I wish I’d taken part in the hunt, but remember that it seemed a bit too big and distant and daunting for me and I doubt my parents would have been able to offer much hope of driving me around the countryside in search of a free membership of the British Airways Junior Jet Club. I’d be fascinated to hear from anybody who did take part in the competition though – please do share your memories in the Comments below.
In the strips, big secrets were on the verge of being revealed in Baker’s Half-dozen and The Fastest Footballer on Earth, Sam Redford had a ‘You’re not entering space-battle against a squad of robots with laser cannons dressed like that, young lady!’ moment in Journey to the Stars, Blake Edmonds continued his pursuit of the mask-thief in Death Wish and Speedboy Tim Barlow’s great lawn-mowing adventures rolled on.