Monday, July 10, 2006

Wham-O Giant Comics


Whatever else you want to say about it, this is one of the hardest collectibles to store! WHAM-O GIANT COMICS # 1 (and only) dates from the year 1967 but to the best of my understanding was not distributed at that time. Apparently the entire warehouse stock sat for several years and then was sold off in bulk. I bought it at a Dollar store circa 1970 for, if I remember correctly, fifty cents. Being as huge as it is, this cover scan (which is itself only a partial view) comes from a double page spread in the Wally Wood issue of COMIC BOOK MARKETPLACE. Clearly it was intended as a regular series as there is a six issue subscription ad contained therein. Six issues were $4.98. Considering the size, however, your mailman would have hated you and if all the kids in the neighborhood had subscribed, he may well have gone postal!
Put out by WHAM-O toy company, it was intended to be a sales vehicle and feature ads fro WHAM-O products along with the stories. The incredible cover art is signed by W.T. Vinson. I’ve read that LITTLE LULU guru John Stanley had some work in this and I think I recognize some very late Lou Fine. The whole book has some of the worst comic book coloring I’ve ever seen and the eclectic mix of styles reminds me of a British Annual and the American Boy Scout magazine, BOY’S LIFE.

The real highlights here, though, are two marvelous pieces by Wally Wood. The book opens with RADIAN, a T.H.U.N.D.E.R. AGENTS style hero. Later on we have the first appearance of GOODY BUMPKIN, Wood’s fantasy version of his space kid hero BUCKY RUCKUS. The GOODY story is one of Woody’s all-time best, filled with his trademark puns and humor and some of his smoothest art from that whole period.

Strips by other creators include a non-Kubert version of TOR, MARK OF THE SUN, SUPER SIBLING, and EDGE OF TIME, seen here, with hero Skip Savant. There are heroes, robots, monsters, aliens, gladiators, bratty kids, UFO’s and dinosaurs. What’s not to like?

It’s hard to store, it’s hard to find and with it’s teeny tiny panels, it’s even hard to read but for fans of the esoteric or more particularly fans of Wally Wood, WHAM-O GIANT COMICS is a must-have!

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

It actually was released in 1967. At least in Southern California.

My God, you would not believe the ad campaign that virutally saturated TV (and radio) for this thing.

Being only 4 at the time I can attest to the persuasion of advertising, I HAD TO HAVE IT!

Wham-o were brilliant hucksters for any of their plastic contraptions and they worked their kaleido/psychedeli/colorific magic again with of all things, a GIANT comic.

Our neighborhood Thrifty drug store had them in a HUGE display along with whatever else was the latest Wham-o invention as well as Hula-hoops, Super-balls, Water-wiggles, Air-blasters, etc. You couldn't miss it.

The unfortunate end to this story was that I was still only 4 and couldn't read the thing, so alas, I never could persuade my Mom to get me one. :(

Anonymous said...

I picked one up on eBay a few years ago. The description on this site is quite accurate.

I was a 7 year old in SoCal at the time. There were a lot of TV commercials for the Wham-O comic. I think I saw one at someone's house, and I saw one in a big store with a large Wham-O department. After that, nothing.

The color registration was crappy in both those I saw back then and the one I purchased on eBay. I can't say I've read the thing, it was just fun to see it.

One favorite bit in the comic involves martians coming to earth: they meet a teenage guy speaking 60s lingo, and give up exploring the earth any further.

F said...

I had this when I was little. I got it at a "Giant" store in Western Mass in the early 70s when I was about pre-school or Kindergarten age. (I think the Giant store became a King's, then Ames or Riches- anyways it was near a Burger Chef where I got my Star Wars happy meal years later and we also liked the make your own sundae- this could be a defunct chains thread!)

I doubt a kid over ten or so would want one, but there is a magical age that is a sweet spot, somewhere between right after learning to read and before the first half of grade school is over, that laying on the floor pouring over a huge, giant sized comic book is just awesome.