It also got me to thinking about Bullet and what it meant to me and so here we have the first (and maybe the last, who knows?) “Nostalgic for my childhood” blog-post (and I realise it could be argued that a lot of posts here could be safely collected under that title).
Launched on 7th February 1976 by D.C. Thomson, Bullet was their attempt to produce a tougher, more hard hitting comic to appeal to older boys. Priced at 7p, it focused on action and adventure, revenge and sci-fi and - those old staples - war and sport and apparently remained a popular title throughout its publication life. It’s worth noting that IPC launched Action the same weekend and against the standard set by that comic (the ‘seven penny nightmare’, as it was dubbed), Bullet was relatively tame.
There were plenty of other strips, obviously and some of the main ones included:
Twisty, which featured Twisty Lunnon, a footballer with an attitude and the ability to bend the ball with incredible accuracy (he had a crooked left foot, caused by a car crash).
Smasher concerned a virtually indestructible 50-foot robot that destroyed cities, controlled by Dr Doom (not the one from The Fantastic Four), an evil genius who planned world domination.
Midge (my favourite, after Fireball) was about sixteen-year-old ‘Midge’ Miller, who worked for Callaghan’s the builders. A 7-stone weakling, he was bullied by his macho workmates but took a bodybuilding course at the S.W.I.S.H. (the Shipyard Workers Indoor Sports Hall) and by the end of the story had became a force to be reckoned with.
A Tale of Terror from Solomon Knight featured a different scary story every week. Knight introduced them and sometimes explained the tale at the end, but sometimes left disturbing aspects open to the readers imagination.
Hitman, featuring our anti-hero after some prime targets. This was the first strip that introduced me to the wonderful artwork of Denis McLoughlin (who also produced some of the covers).
Three Men In A Jeep was set in Northern France during 1944. Our three heroes had escaped from a military prison (pre-dating “The A Team” somewhat), stolen a Jeep and started fighting their own war, killing ‘Huns’, blowing stuff up and generally causing mayhem.
The Mice Of Tobruk featured a bunch of kids stuck behind German lines in Tobruk during World War 2.
Ginger featured Tim Brady, a fugitive on the run from his bullying stepfather who had attempted to drown Ginger, his greyhound.
Vic's Vengeance, wherein Vic Mason cut a swathe through London’s ganglands as he sought revenge against his father's murderers.
The strip art was generally very good (as was often the case for 70s Brit comics) with Barrie Mitchell working on Twisty, Tony Harding on Wonder Mann and Horacio Altuna on Fireball, whilst the excellent Ian Kennedy produced Smasher.
Profiles and fact-files on footballers and other sportsmen and cars were also scattered throughout (Malcolm MacDonald featured heavily in the only Summer Special Bullet published, in 1977).
As often happened with comics back in the day, Bullet was absorbed into Warlord in December 1978 and although I carried on with it for a while, I lost interest fairly quickly. Warlord, which began life on 28th September 1974, was itself absorbed into Victor on 27th September 1986, though ‘summer specials’ appeared until 1990.
A key aspect of the comic was the Fireball Club and I was a keen and eager member of this. For the princely sum of 25p (postal orders only, please), you got the Fireball story (as mentioned above) enclosed in a red plastic wallet, an ID card and the Fireball ‘Flaming F’ pendant (which was very, very cool). Fireball was never seen without his and it saved his life on one occasion, shielding him from a long range sniper’s bullet. The Fireball story also served as a key for decoding Top Secret messages in the comic.
I loved Bullet at the time and treasured my pendant, though it has long since been lost to the sands of time. I did pick up a few copies of the comic through eBay (where they are sold for considerably more than their 7p cover price) and it was a really nice, nostalgic blast reading through them (and I was amazed at how much of the artwork I could remember). I have noticed that certain comics lines are having old strips re-published in large format editions and I’d love to see something similar happen for Bullet.
Me and my sister Tracy, pictured in 1977. I'm proudly wearing my pendant!
(thanks to The Yellowed Pages, 26Pigs.com, The Sevenpenny Nightmare, Comicvine and Downthetubes for their brilliantly nostalgic and well-researched sites - all are great resources for kids of the 60s/70s/80s)
2016 update - lovely 40th anniversary post over at Downthetubes from Colin Noble
Ah, happy days! I coveted the Fireball pendant, but I was a bit of a latecomer to the Bullet party, as when I sent off my postal order, I got a letter back telling me that Bullet was being cancelled, so they weren't accepting any more members. Gutted!ReplyDelete
Oh no, bad luck Jay. Really wish I still had mine!ReplyDelete
I still have all my stuff and my warlord stuff. :) Loved Bullet.ReplyDelete
Nostalgia ain't what it used to be...ReplyDelete
Really enjoyed reading this. Dumb as it doubtless sounds, the 'top secret story of how I became Fireball' has remained my subconscious and not-so-subconscious template for a life well lived to this very day. Do you remember the follow on strip - Young Fireball, chronicling his 'gap year'?
I have to go - I have a ten mile cross country run before breakfast.
Cheers Chris, glad you enjoyed it! And enjoy your run too :)Delete
When it first came out I loved that comic.Could not wait for the next week to find out what happened to Fireball after the inevitable cliffhanging end. It definitely worked for this 10 year old boy!Delete
When I was studying in Chester 10 yrs ago I came across Bullet comic when I was checkin out something on the web..i started collecting all the Bullet comics, and also got the wallet and pendant , I also collected all the Vulcan comics, what a wonderful time too be a kid, still am..lolReplyDelete
OMG - so many memories! I remember waiting at the door for the postman to come every day for weeks! I wish I still had it!ReplyDelete
Brilliant, just found my red fireball wallet. I'm 51 now and just had to Google it and found this page. Great memoriesReplyDelete
I had pangs for this recently ... I had vague memories of a story about a boy who was lost in the jungle but I just couldn't remember the name of it. Eventually I found a reference to it on another site (it was called "Survivor" BTW). A little bit of searching around and lo and behold I have managed to get the ENTIRE "Bullet" collection on a CD for £4.99.ReplyDelete
Just started reading the first 2 issues this evening..... amazing nostaglic fun for a fiver :-) !
Wow! I have also just googled Bullet and found this page! I must be one of the few girls who loved Bullet! At school we were members of the Fireball Club. I still have the wallet and its contents but lost the pendant back in the day. I also bought four of the comics on ebay a few years ago for the nostalgia. Then bought the CD with a scan of every Bullet edition. Good to know I'm not the only one!ReplyDelete
Thanks for this, Jane!Delete
"Fireball" character was drawed by two argentine artists: Horacio Altuna and Gerardo Canelo. Do you know where I can find inning pages of rhis serie. Thank you.
www.luisalberto941.wordpress.com (TOP COMICS)
Thanks for that Rafael. As for the inner pages, I'm not aware of anyone on the Net hosting them.Delete
I am trying to locate a D C Thomson publication entitled 'Bullet Sports Special'. It was a one-off published in 1977. Can anyone help?ReplyDelete
I've been looking for ages too - can't find one on ebay or Amazon (wish I still had my copy!). Good luck with your search.Delete
Might be old news now, but this CD on eBay says it comes with the sports edition https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/BULLET-1-147-ON-DVD-FULL-RUN-1976-1978-BOYS-BRITISH-ACTION-ADVENTURE-COMIC-UK-/143846872468?_trksid=p2349624.m46890.l49292Delete
Had the wallet and made the survival tin, in fact I've just remade the survival tin and am waiting for the CD to arrive
I'm curious about the CD, let me know what it's like! I'm still looking for a reasonably priced wallet!Delete
Received it and have started reading it on a tablet. The reader that came with it wasn't too good but downloaded one called Cover. It's excellent especially for the money. Great fun reading the letters page!!Delete
Brilliant, thanks for letting me know!Delete
I was involved as a writer for Bullet comic, when it was first introduced and wrote many of the original Fireball episodes.ReplyDelete
A D.C Thomson editor met me at the Piccadilly Hotel in Manchester and provided me with a detailed spiel about Fireball's origins and the fact that he was related to the chief character on which Warlord was based.
I was also provided with a book (by Anthony Greenbank, if I recall correctly) about survival in the wilds etc. which would provide a basis for Fireball's intuition regarding how to escape from difficulties encountered.
I still have some of the original scripts in my possession, although D.C. Thomson would purchase the copyright as it existed in comic strip form, but would (if I have interpreted their original instructions correctly) allow the scripts to be published by the authors in none comic strip formats.
Wow! Thanks for posting this, that's excellent.Delete
I would be delighted to see the scripts again, in whatever format.Delete
So would I!Delete
I have all the Bullets and some warlords, is ebay the best place to sell? Or a specialist comic shopDelete
Ebay, I would thinkDelete
I loved that comic when it first came out. Could not wait to till the next week to find out what happened to Fireball after the invevitable cliffhanging end. It certainly worked for this 10 year-old boy!ReplyDelete
Great stuff, thanks for commenting Kenneth!Delete
Man, that brings back long forgotten memories. I was a Bullet/Fireball fan and my friend was a Warlord fan, creating abit of a friendly rivalry. I could never figure out why he thought that the Warlord pin even came close to the Fireball pendent, which I thought was the coolest thing on earth.ReplyDelete
btw...I remember that my favorite Bullet storyline had the premise of an alien invasion and the discovery that salt was the alien race’s weakness... the good guys had to get to the the salt that the aliens had stored away in order to eradicate them, but I can’t find anything about it online. Not sure if it was a Fireball storyline or an independent one... think independent but not sure. Anybody remember something like that?
I don't recall that storyline - I found a stash of Bullet's last year in a retro shop in Whitby and had great fun reading back all the Fireball adventures.Delete
Remember the smell of the plastic wallet like it was yesterday.ReplyDelete
Yes, I'd love to smell it again! :)Delete
Fantastic. I clearly recall jealously guarding my Fireball pendant, and was ultra excited to 'decrypt' the secret messages. Thanks for this.ReplyDelete
Thanks for your comment! I wonder how many of us would love to get those pendants back?Delete
amazing memories! I'm in the tiny club of girl fans (a move on from my TinTin fixation...) and loved the other stories especially 'Mice of Tobruk'. I also have a clear image of the wimpy lad who built a hammer throwing cage in his back yard with left over building supplies.... I'm sure I've got my membership card somewhereReplyDelete
Thank you for commenting, lovely to hear from you! I loved Midge too and found a "Red Dagger" edition of Tasker the other year, which was great fun. I wish I still had my membership card...Delete
im thinking of creating a fireball pendant made from light metals on the exact designs of the old one ( kevlar black & gold plating )ReplyDelete
for all the club members who have lost their originals
i'm in the process of recreating the fireball pendant in kevlar black and gold leaf plating with gold chain in original design and very slightly smaller size due to weight differential.
anybody interested in purchasing once models are completed..?
Did you ever make those pendants?ReplyDelete
Thanks so much for the memories. I still use a variation of the Fireball code for passwords.ReplyDelete
Commenter Peter, the alien series was called Day of the Zitans.
One strip not mentioned here, but which was outstanding, was Vengeance Trail, about a boy who saw his parents murdered and set about avenging them. It was admittedly pretty racist, but not nearly as bad as Captain Hurricane! Other than that unfortunate downside it was a terrific story-line.
As I got older I grew pretty fed up with Three Men in a Jeep, as ridiculously unrealistic; attacking whole divisions of Germans all on their own. Then I read about Colonel Blair (Paddy) Mayne and it blew my mind. This is from one of his many medal citations (German long-range snipers had already taken out the commanding officer and his right-hand man with single shots through the forehead. Eye-witnesses engaged in the action said Mayne held the Bren-gun up to his shoulder like a rifle!):
Lt-Col. Mayne, on receiving a wireless message from the leading Squadron reporting that it was heavily engaged by enemy fire and that the Squadron Commander had been killed, immediately drove forward to the scene of the action. From the time of his arrival until the end of the action. Lt-Col. Mayne w as in full view of the enemy and exposed to fire from small-arms, machine-guns and snipers’ rifles. On arrival he summed up the situation in a matter of seconds and entered the nearest house alone and ensured that the enemy here had either withdrawn or been killed. He then seized a bren-gun and magazine and. single-handed. fired burst after burst into the second house killing and wounding all the enemy here and also opening fire on the woods.
He then ordered a jeep to come forward and take over his fire position, he himself returning to the forward section w here he disposed the men to best advantage and ordered another jeep to come forward. He got in the jeep and with another officer as rear gunner, drove past the position w here the Squadron Commander had been killed a few minutes previously and continued to a point a hundred yards ahead where a further section of jeeps were halted by intense and accurate enemy fire. This section had suffered casualties in killed and wounded owing to the heavy enemy fire and the survivors were unable at the time to influence the action in any way until the arrival of Lt-Col. Mayne. The Col. continued along the road all the time engaging the enemy with fire from his own jeep. Having swept the area very thoroughly with close-range fire he turned his jeep round and drove back down the road still in full view of the enemy.
By this time the enemy had suffered heavy casualties, and were starting to withdraw. Nevertheless, they maintained an accurate fire on the road and it appeared almost impossible to extricate the wounded who were in the ditch near the forward jeep. Any attempt at rescuing these men under these conditions appeared virtually suicidal owing to the highly concentrated and accurate fire of the Germans. Though he fully realised the risk he was taking. Col. Mayne turned his jeep round once again and returned to try and rescue these wounded. Then by superlative determination and by displaying gallantry of the very highest degree and in the face of intense enemy machine-gun fire, he lifted the wounded one by one. into the jeep, turned round and drove back to the main body.
The entire enemy position had been wiped out. The majority of the enemy had been killed or wounded leaving a very small remnant who were now in full retreat.
Anyway, thanks again!
Thanks for the comment Jez!Delete
By the way, I just got the DVD someone mentioned and it has the Sports Special you and an unknown commenter were looking for. The link someone posted didn't work for me, but it's here - https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/143520193513?ViewItem=&item=143520193513Delete
If that changes just ebay for "Bullet Comic Collection 1-147 on DVD"
Thanks for sharing Jez… so the Three Men in a Jeep has its roots in a real life war hero, pretty cool… and thanks for the title of the alien storyline, Day of the Zitans, that does ring a bell.Delete
Quite abit of time has passed since his postbut I was also wondering if Stev.bar ever did make a metal version of the pendant. That sounds pretty cool…I’d be interested in one.
Thanks so much for this Mark. At 10 years old this comic was the centre of my world. O vaguely remember a storyline about an alien invasion and the invulnerable aliens were found to be susceptible to salt which was deadly to them.ReplyDelete
You're welcome Andy, thanks for your comment!Delete
I loved Bullet as a kid in the 70s! And I’ve still got my Fireball Wallet and Pendant although I can’t get it over my bulbous adult noggin! I was sure I had the complete run of the comic on an old hard drive somewhere and, sure enough, I managed to find the issues!ReplyDelete
I’ve taken the liberty of uploading them for anyone interested. Hopefully this is OK and hope you enjoy the comics!
Thanks Mark for keeping the Fireball flame burning and for bringing back some happy memories for us old-timers! Strangely enough Fireball has actually re-entered my life quite recently! It happened when to brighten up a mundane visit to the park with my 10-year-old great niece I suggested that her daring dos (tree climbing, cartwheels etc) in the great outdoors might one day qualify her to be Fireball agent like her great uncle!! For some reason she really took to the notion of this and most of our trips to the park now involve at least one Fireball related challenge. In fact, this became such a regular feature of our time together that I ended up digging out my old Fireball t-shirt from childhood and had it reproduced for myself, her and her great aunt to wear on our days out. So, if you or any of the other Bullet fans reading this spot two old folk and a manic child running about daft somewhere in the North West of England clad in Fireball t-shirts do not be surprised. Do however stop and say hello and feel free to give us our next secret mission!ReplyDelete
This is brilliant! Thank you for commenting (I hope you like the other Bullet posts as well with the cover galleries!) and I love your adventures with your great niece! And it's incredible you still have the old t-shirt!Delete