Trying to track a British comic strip from late 50s/early 60s
August 25, 2011 12:15 PM   Subscribe

My "Rosebud" moment. I have dim memories of British childhood comics (50s/60s) which would seem surreal/acid influenced today. Elements I can remember are some (all?) stories being set in caves/caverns with large wasp-like flying predators and candy cane sweets hanging from the walls. The central characters were definitely not human, i.e. they were cartoonish. Can anyone suggest things to help me look on google or more information?

I read these in the late 50s/early 60s acquired from charity sources so the exact age is unknown. They were hardback annuals of the sort which weekly comics used to publish at Christmas so I presume they were from a fairly major title.

This is about all I can remember, I might even be remembering a single story though I think it was a series. Even the title of the comic would help greatly. Is there a decent 'museum' of British comics from the period anywhere?
posted by epo to Grab Bag (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This sounds exactly like the Rupert the Bear annuals I read as a kid. Here's a cover in the style I think you're talking about. There was a story arc about smugglers who worked in underground caverns where there was weird algae all over the rocks that reminds me particularly of your description - I'll see if I can find anything about it.
posted by bubukaba at 12:36 PM on August 25, 2011

It couldn't be the "Eyeballs-in-the-Sky" sequences from The Perishers, could it?
posted by Perodicticus potto at 12:40 PM on August 25, 2011

Not the Perishers but nice try.

Rupert? Hmm, never thought of Rupert ever being that 'wierd' but I was quite young at the time so I might have fixated on seemingly minor details.
posted by epo at 12:55 PM on August 25, 2011

Rupert had some very, very odd stories. I remember one annual I had where he took off in a hot air balloon with Algie and ended up in some laternate dimension with garden gnomes living on clouds.

I also remember some weirdness in some WHAM! annuals from the late 60s-early 70s. Georgie's Germs was reliable for strangeness.

And then there was the time Beano and Minnie the Minx took ecstasy and....I digress.
posted by Kafkaesque at 1:15 PM on August 25, 2011

The first thing I thought of was Rupert as well. There was some pretty psychedelic stuff underneath those parent friendly cuddly covers.
posted by merocet at 1:15 PM on August 25, 2011

I don't recognise your description, sorry, but here's a partial list of British comics that started no later than 1965, sourced from Wikipedia; I thought some of the titles might jog your memory.

Adventure; Air Ace Picture Library; Andy Capp
The Beano; The Beezer; The Big One; The Boy's Own Paper; Boys' World; Bunty; Buster
Cometman; Comic Cuts; Commando Comics
The Dandy
The Eagle
Film Fun
The Gem; Girl
Hornet; Hotspur
Illustrated Chips
Jack and Jill; Jackie
Lion; Look and Learn
The Magic Comic; The Magnet; Mickey Mouse Weekly; Mirabelle
Picture Politics; Picture Fun; Prehistoric Peeps; Puck
Radio Fun; Rainbow; Robin; Romeo
Sparky; Swift
Tiger; Tiger Tim's Weekly; The Topper; TV Century 21; TV Comic
Valentine; Valiant; Victor
War Picture Library; Wham!; Wonder

FWIW, I thought of Wham! too, based on the single annual I've seen: giant wasps sound right up Grimly Feendish's street. But it's pushing your timeframe a bit, since it started in 1964.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 1:24 PM on August 25, 2011

Just in case it helps, the Rupert story I was thinking of was "Rupert at Greyrocks Cove" which appeared in the 1961 Rupert Annual (though I knew it from an anthology called Michael Bond's Book of Bears). Can't find any pictures from it online, though. Darn.
posted by bubukaba at 1:54 PM on August 25, 2011

Slight long shot, but, Rufus and Flook?
posted by kmennie at 5:59 PM on August 25, 2011

Dan Dare?
posted by guster4lovers at 8:47 PM on August 25, 2011

Dr. Who Killer Wasps comic (scroll half-way down to issues 877-880)?
posted by guster4lovers at 8:51 PM on August 25, 2011

This is a loooooonggggshot, but it really sounds like something Oliver Postgate might have done. Most people know his TV work, but he did comics as well. From here:
Postgate's long association with comics and annuals began as early as 1960 when he and Firmin produced a weekly Ivor the Engine comic strip for TV Land. There were dozens of annuals, story books and other related publications, including The Pogles Annual (Polystyle, 1967-74; the Pogles also appeared in Pippin and the Pippin Annual), Clangers Annual (Polystyle, 1971-73), The Bagpuss Annual (BBC, 1974-75; World International, 2001), Ivor the Engine Annual (Stafford Pemberton, 1978) and Ivor the Engine Holiday Special (Polystyle, 1983). He was also the animator of another comics classic, Captain Pugwash.
Covers of Clangers books here.

...Annnnddd I've just read the dates and realised they're all too late for the time period of your question. Damn.

Otherwise, the only thing I can think of is Little Nemo In Slumberland, which does have that hallucinatory quality, but the main character is human. I'll keep following this thread to see what transpires, because I am curious now.
posted by Pallas Athena at 4:10 AM on August 26, 2011

Another thought. Any chance it was Bleep and Booster from the Blue Peter annuals? I can't find pics but there's a nag in my brain saying that it could be them...
posted by merocet at 1:51 PM on August 29, 2011

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