Bullet was my favourite comic growing up, as I previously wrote about here and over the rest of the holiday week, I read through my stash and those old strips sparked all kinds of fantastic memories - stories I’d forgotten all about but remembered the moment I saw the masthead, images that had burned themselves into my brain and tales that grabbed my attention. It was fantastic and so, in honour of that wonderful comic of my childhood (which, forty years ago, on 2nd December 1978, merged with Warlord), here’s an appreciation of Bullet.
|17th July 1976 issue back cover, featuring Bullet writer (and future D C Thomson |
editor) Garry Fraser as Fireball)
Other stories included Twisty (a footballer with attitude who raced pigeons in his spare time), Smasher (a 50-foot city-smashing robot who was finally destroyed by being nuked), Wonder Mann (raised by computers to become a world beating all-round sportsman), Midge (a 16-year-old 7-stone weakling who became a bodybuilder - one my favourite strips), Tasker (a tearaway with a chip on his shoulder learns to box in borstal), Three Men In A Jeep (a self-explanatory World War Two adventure) and Vic’s Vengeance (a tall of revenge set in the East End of London) and Solomon Knight who introduced a weekly tale of terror. There was also Werewolf (an ex-detective gained the power to turn into a werewolf and used it to fight crime), Ginger (a greyhound and his master who was on the run from an abusive stepfather) and Frontline UK (a Scorpion tank crew fights a guerilla war against invaders in Britain during 1978).
Fireball Calling appeared weekly and included trivia, password messages and competitions. Reader letters got a Fireball t-shirt and the letter of the week won an electronic pocket calculator, which was a big deal then. There were also sports profiles, often featuring footballers and fact files, while the back pages often carried “A to Z” entries on various topics.
There was also the Fireball Club where, for 25p (postal orders only, please), you got the Fireball story (which also acted as the decoder for the Top Secret messages in Fireball Calling) in a red plastic wallet, an ID card and, best of all, the Fireball ‘Flaming F’ pendant (which was not only very cool, it was worn constantly by Fireball and saved his life on occasion).
As an aside, rival publisher IPC released the first issue of Action two days before Bullet and while the comics were meant to compete - they shared the same format and price - that wasn’t really the case. Much keener to push the grittiness envelope (and it was great fun), Action suffered a media furore that saw it last 36 issues before being pulled and neutered. It ran for a further 50 issues and merged into Battle in November 1977.
Thanks for the entertainment Bullet!
|left - in Whitby with Dude, 2018 - right - with my sister Tracy, sporting my Fireball pendant, in 1977|
|The first copy I ever remember seeing, during wet playtime one day at Rothwell Juniors. I was so excited about it, my Mum had the newsagents reserve me a copy every week afterwards.|
|I loved this Denis McLoughlin cover so much I chose it to copy in an art school class, the first year I went to Montsaye. I remember my teacher not being particularly impressed with my choice...|
|Cheerio then Bullet (and farewell Fireball...)|
Sources (and further reading):
Downthetubes interview with Garry 'Fireball' Fraser
Downthetubes interview with Bill Graham
Colin Noble's 40th anniversary tribute
Lew Stringer - Action-vs-Bullet
Bear Alley on Warlord
Great post Mark, I don't remember much about Bullet, but I did buy that first copy of Action the previous week, pocket money funds being limited I stayed with that title and missed out on Bullet. Seems like I denied myself some great stories.ReplyDelete
Thanks Jasper - I had a similar dilemma but went the other way :)Delete
What a haul in Whitby! Fantastic covers, more like graphic novels than a comic - definitely ahead of its time. Thank you for posting this, it's taken me right back to my childhood!ReplyDelete
You're welcome and thanks for commenting! The artwork is definitely superb, isn't it?Delete
Great to see this online. I bought Fireball for years. I had the pendant, the plastic wallet (still remember the smell!) and the code book. Smasher was my favourite, then 3 Men, then Twisty but they were all great.ReplyDelete
Glad you enjoyed it and thanks for commenting. Have you revisited the comic at all? I got a load from ebay and it's good stuff, even now. Wish I'd kept my pendant and wallet!Delete