Monster Fun was a kids comic in 1975 and 1976, running for a scare-tastic seventy three issues and was one of my favourites as a kid. I’ve even recently re-read a bunch of them, so was well prepared to see what publishers Rebellion would do with the title in this Halloween special.
First, I had to berate my local WH Smiths for putting it with the 2000ADs and video game mags, as this is definitely a kids comic that should share shelf space with The Beano and Phoenix. The cover (by one of the best in the genre, Tom Patterson) features Sweeney Toddler in all his glorious ghastleyness and bodes well for what’s inside.
The interior is stuffed full of 50 pages of child friendly monster japes of varying quality, and it must be said the whole package is very attractive, with large, colourful pages and plenty of fun art. There’s a few guest appearances to amuse fans of the old comics, like Fuss Pot for example, and there’s even a spot for Big Boy Barry, once of the Games Master TV series. No idea why, but there you go.
As with anything, there’s goo and bad here, and it’s only fair to start with the good, as it outweighs the bad by a decent margin. The standout is artist Tom Patterson, who gives is the brilliant Sweeney Toddler as well as Grimley Fiendish and Gah! The Gobblin’ Goblin, a new strip about a useless goblin warrior who’d rather eat a sandwich than his actual job of pillaging. There’s a welcome return for the likes of Kid Kong, Frankie Stein, Draculass, Creature Teacher, Martha’s Monster Make Up, Hire A Horror, Birdman & Chicken (plus Sparrow these days), Evil Eye and Gums, and all of these do a good job, filling two or three pages with fun and not outstaying their welcome. The Leopard From Lime Street is a favourite of mine, and it’s great to see Billy Farmer, now in his late teens by the looks of things, brought back in fine style by Simon Furman and Laurent Lefeuvre. The only classic strip I could do without is Teddy Scare, which was crap in the original comic and continues that tradition here, mainly as it’s a poor idea with incredibly limited story potential.
So what else do we have? Well, there’s a few brand new strips trying to fit in with the old, and of these Scare Salon and Hell’s Angel have the most promise for the future, whilst Tokolshe, Harry & Gary and Jump Junior, Monster Helper (a sequel to an original strip that itself was poor) and the woeful Wiz War would definitely not be missed when the title returns as a bi-monthly next April.
Overall, this special is pretty impressive, and a really good reason to get your kids into comics or, if you’re an older reader, a good excuse to get yourself back into them.
Wiz War isn’t a new strip – it originally appeared in Pow! shortly before it was cancelled in 1968 then transferred into Smash! for a couple of years.