On this day, 16 July 1988: Buster
On this day, 16 July 1988 ... The remit of this blog is to examine the IPC comics of the 1970s and 1980s but I confess I do feel as if I'm straying into unknown territory whenever I step beyond around 1985. I'd stopped reading comics myself by then so they're unfamiliar to me in that sense, but also because the comics themselves were starting to change into a different sort of product from that I grew up with. Generally speaking - and this Buster from 1988 is a good example - they were larger format publications, printed on a better grade of paper and with more colour. These were all considered to be changes for the better, I suppose, and probably essential in order to remain relevant and competitive in the marketplace. But they are a step away from the world that I knew and loved so I feel less engaged with them. For me, comics from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s are stapled pages of cheap paper covered in the pictures and words of some wondrously talented people and imbued with a magical nostalgia, while comics from after that time are stapled pages of slightly nicer paper covered in the pictures and words of some wondrously talented people but are imbued with nothing much in particular.
What I find most interesting about this Buster is reading through and noticing how many of the strips in it started out in different comics but moved to Buster in a merge at some point over the previous twenty years or so. The only other humour comic in the IPC pack at this stage was Whizzer and Chips (it didn't merge with Buster until 1990) so Buster had accumulated a huge amount (more than half its line-up) of other titles' stories:
From Cor!! (merged 1974), came Chalky and Ivor Lott and Tony Broke; from Monster Fun (merged ) there is X-Ray Specs; from Jackpot (merged 1982) there are The Winners and Jack Pott (originally a character from Cor!! but he came to Buster via the Jackpot merge); from School Fun came School Belle; from the most recent merge – with Nipper – came Strong Arm Command Kart, Ricky Rainbow, School Funds, Nipper, Mighty Mouth, Roy's Toys and My 'Dad' Mum; and from Krazy (as a reprint rather than through a merger) is Birdman and Chicken.
Buster ‘originals’ in this issue are: Buster, Beastenders, Prambo, Vid Kid, Dreamy Den, Thundercap, Melvyn's Mirror, Double Trouble, The Savers, Dracula Dobbs. Apart from Buster, these are all strips that began within the previous couple of years so there really isn’t very much classic Buster here at all. It’s a long way from what I know.