On this day, 9 June 1979: Jackpot
On this day, 9 June 1979 … Marathon Mutt is my favourite memory from Jackpot. I had no particular love of dogs, nor of marathon running, when I was eight and nine years old, but something about this story really captured my imagination. I clearly remember playing at being the story’s star – greyhound Henry Bono – on holiday at my grandparents’ house in Charmouth, running up and around on the cliff-hill of Stone Barrow, part of Dorset’s Jurassic Coast, imagining all sorts of wrong-signposting and kidnapping adventures as Henry strived to be top dog among all his canine running rivals. I’m sure John Geering’s lovely cartooning was part of the attraction – he’s always been a favourite of mine from the humour comics, with his bold but detailed lines and proud, leery, grimacey expressions. But I think it was also the serial nature of the strip, as each episode covered a different stage of one race, often ending on a cliffhanger as Henry battled through the ranks towards the head of the pack. I was just a little too young for the adventure comics at this stage, and even the adventure stories in the fun comics (such as Jackpot’s rather chilling The Terror Toys) were a bit too serious for me. But the unfolding narrative of an ongoing strip such as Marathon Mutt (and also Ian Knox’s Terry and Gavin’s Funtastic Journey) really appealed to me. Grayson Perry, in his excellent All Man series on Channel 4, suggested that it was common for boys to be drawn to adventure narratives – tales of heroism on to which we would (and still do) map our own lives and journeys – and I think that is what this lovely but little-remembered story about a good guy competing and striving and overcoming the odds provided for me.