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Sparky issue 2

Issue two, the first to feature a full cover strip

Sparky issue 1

Issue number one, with FREE 'Flying Snorter!'

Sparky Book 1975

Sparky (1965 to 1977, début issue 23 Jan, 1965) was a D.C. Thomson entry that fell between the two stools of Bimbo and Beano. It was somewhat uneasily aimed at the post-nursery market, with some early stories like Dreamy Dave and Dozy Dora taking on an almost Alice-in-Wonderland-style ambience. Sparky looked curiously dated in comparison to many contemporary 1960s comics, and the choice of artists in this very early period made for a sometimes jarring mixture. Nevertheless, much of this comic's output of the early period remains just as memorable as more widely-seen comic shenanigans of the era.

Very early Sparky was put together by ex-adventure comics writers and editors, who perhaps second-guessed what the street-sussed reader of 1965-68 craved in a comic. However, in February 1969 'new broom' editor Ian 'Chiz' Chissolm took the sometimes staid-seeming Sparky and shook it by the scruff of its neck, clearing out lots of the dead wood and injecting much manic mayhem into the mix. This heralded a new, more open approach more in keeping with what the tuned-in comic-reader of 1969 desired in his or her escapist fare. What had up until this point often been seen as 'archaic' within Sparky now looked positively 'anarchic' in many respects.

For all this new influx of free-range thinking and more liberal approach, Sparky would never totally shake off its whimsical past, with olde-worlde tales of magic (like Mr Bubbles) rubbing shoulders with the likes of Puss 'n' Boots which was far more in tandem with much of the more Pythonesque form of humour then in vogue, which was beginning to infiltrate much of UK life in the very early 1970s.

Although there is much to marvel at in this comic in the 1965-68 period, the true peak of Sparky's creativity may be that of the early 1969-72 output. Certainly, a degree of over-familiarity seemed to creep in around the mid-1970s. By the time the death-knell was rung, the dreaded reprints (of We are the SPARKY People!, Rudolph the Redcoat Mountie and so forth) heralded the comic's demise, although fairly late entries of absurdist gems like the highly slapstick Thingummyblob still managed to enter the fray.

After 12 years of mostly solid service, Sparky amalgamated with Topper in July, 1977, sadly to not a great deal of fanfare. Nevertheless, Sparky leaves behind it a proud heritage of many quality creations, and for all its reliance on recycled strips like Peter Piper, Hungry Horace, and Keyhole Kate, the comic leaves us with at least three bona-fide original comic creations that rank amongst the finest of any period anywhere: The Moonsters, I SPY and Puss 'n' Boots.

Sparky strips included: