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 ComicBitsOnline.com, 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.
THE STAIRWAY TO 'HEAVEN' LEADS DOWN, NOT UP...
6 hours ago