Thursday, 19 February 2009

Sand, Sea & Alan Class Comics

This'll probably be completely meaningless to anyone outside the UK, but: Does anyone remember Alan Class Comics?

Remember? Those weird little comics you only ever saw in seaside shops when you were on holiday? They were squarebound, black & white, printed ridiculously badly on the cheapest, thickest, most horrible paper available, and the shops on the beach ALWAYS sold them. They never sold Marvel or DC, but they always sold buckets & spades, ice creams, and Alan Class comics. ( Not that I ever knew they were called that: To me they were 'seaside comics'. )

And they were damn good value! Apart from the awful printing, ( which, let's be honest, we weren't aware of or even cared about ) titles like Uncanny Tales, Secrets Of The Unknown & Astounding Stories were chock full of the most amazingly brilliant stuff. There was all that Kirby monster stuff like Goom, Son Of Gagoom ( or was it the other way round? ), as well as Wally Wood's T.H.U.N.D.E.R Agents, Archie's Mighty Crusaders, Steve Ditko's Tales Of The Mysterious Traveller and Captain Atom, Pete Morisi's Peter Cannon, Thunderbolt, even pre-code reprints from people I now know to be artists of the likes of Mort Meskin & Joe Maneely.

There was no rhyme or reason to any of it, and certainly no continuity. You never collected these things like you did Marvel or DC. Each issue was a complete one off, seemingly plonked there every summer by the god of comics, so you wouldn't suffer withdrawal symptoms from being without for a week.

These comics were actually printed for nearly thirty years, though they must've been re-re-reprinted, 'cos I've seen 1950's dates for issues I bought in the early '70's. ( Unless those beach shops just never threw away their stock! ) And though, as fans, we never considered them 'the real thing', they were still pretty damn good.

There's not a great deal of information about Alan Class on the net,
( yes, he was a real person, and, yes, he's still alive! ) though there is an interview with him at, detailing how he managed to get the rights to all the myriad things he published, and I managed to find this quote in Comics International, about Mr. Class' semi-return to the comic world in 2005: " I noticed Comic Showcase as my wife and I were walking from the theatre, and she encouraged me to go in and ask if they remembered my comics. Fortunately there was someone who did! It's very gratifying to be remembered - I thought my titles would have been forgotten long ago. "

Not to any british kid of my generation, who only has to see one of these covers, and be instantly transported back to a sunny beach sometime in the '70's, eating an ice cream that tastes of sand.


  1. I used to own a stack of Alan Class comics. As you say, they were a treasure-trove of old strips: I first discovered the Tower Comics heroes and Ditko's Captain Atom there. Ah, the days of sun, sea and spinner-racks...

  2. Had totally forgotten about these things 'til I randomly spotted one of them on Ebay earlier this evening, at which point the memories immediately started flooding back & I ended up looking searching for more info. You're spot on when you say that, even as a kid, these comics were never considered the "real" thing - more the sorta thing your gran might buy you on a family day out or something! Very strange to see all this stuff again, but very pleasing also - thanks for posting...

  3. Yes, wonderful stuff!

    I was always treated to you during the summer holidays when we went on the train to blackpool, train stations always seemed to sell them too!

    Over time I amassed a bit of collection of these which sat proudly in amongst my British and American Marvels, and my 2000 ADs.

    Luckily my local newsagent stocked them too, so whenever I had read all my monthly American marvels, and that week's British Marvels, and 2000AD and nothing else on the shelves caught my eye, I used to buy an Alan Class comic.

    Fantastic value, and just buckets of fun, great old stories and artwork!!

    I can still remeber going to bed early one night to read one of my lastest purchases.

    There were some great British adventure comics around in the 70s too; Warlord, Battle, Victor et al. Not forgetting those little Commando Books and their sister titles like War Picture Libriary,

    What a shame modern day kids comics are such a pile of dingo's kidneys!

    I can't believe the rubbish that now lines the shelves of my local supermaket - the British comic industry is dead!

    Bring back the 70s when kids read, and didn't spend all day in front of a computer screen going 'Bing, Bing, Bing!@

  4. I remember these really well - I even had the Giant Man / Human Top issue above. I mostly remember them as the only place I'd ever read THUNDER Agents. Ahh, sweet nostalgia for these seaside holidays in Norfolk!