Those pesky comics turned a generation of innocent schoolchildren into
sling-shot carrying, mischievous little brats.The Archive should have
guessed Keith Chapman AKA western great, Chap O'Keefe was partly
Smash! was launched by Odhams in 1966 as the second of "a new breed of
comics". The first was Wham! in 1964. Both weeklies leaned heavily on
the creative talents of cartoonist Leo Baxendale who had quit rival
publisher D. C. Thomson, of Dundee, after drawing such classic Beano
strips as The Bash Street Kids and Minnie the Minx.
For Odhams in London, The Bash Street Kids became The Tiddlers for Wham!
and later The Swots and the Blots for Smash! Both these comics allowed
more outrageous and anarchical humour than had been the norm for the
Scottish publisher and gave work to Baxendale and a team of artists
ghosting his style. But it was relatively short-lived. The Odhams titles
began adding reprints of American Marvel superhero comics to the mix.
And it launched several more weeklies, like Pow! and Fantastic, for a
so-called "Power Comics" stable.
Keith Chapman, who edited and scripted for several Wham! and Smash!
annuals, says, "The writing was on the wall before I left for New
Zealand in 1967. The market could take only so much. The new comics must
have been competing with their own companions for the kids' pocket
money. Also, the cost of the US reprints to Odhams was set to rise
rapidly as sterling stumbled into a series of crises. The Odhams Books
division was never able to buy rights to the likes of The Fantastic Four
and The Incredible Hulk for their hardcover annuals. By the end of 1968,
the Power Comics weeklies were back to just one, and that was Smash! "
Odhams was owned by the giant International Publishing Corporation who
in 1969 rationalized all their comics operations, which included the
tamer Fleetway titles, under one company, IPC Magazines Ltd. According
to Wiki, the defunct Odhams Press Ltd was left to go bankrupt. The IPC
Smash!, much reformed, was finally merged with the old Fleetway Valiant
in April 1971.
The strip here, Bad Penny at the Seaside, is from Smash! Annual 1967
(published late 1966) and is a slice of a vanished, very British life.
The annual seaside holiday with the kids, smelly gasworks, guest houses,
deckchairs on the beach, candy floss, Punch and Judy, old mines
converted into collection boxes, sandcastle competitions ... all are
likely to be familiar to Britons over a certain age!
Bad Penny is clearly in the Minnie the Minx mould. And is that jersey
"borrowed" from the British Dennis the Menace?