Over the years, many Cosgrove Hall characters have featured in their own comic or comic strip. Nowadays, kiddies' shows like Bill and Ben and Noddy enjoy this privilege, but what about the series of yesteryear? You can find out about some of them right here
(anyone have info on others? Let me know!)
Look-In magazine | The shows | Links
Look out for Look-In!
Most of the old Cosgrove Hall comic strips could be found in the legendary and now deceased Look-In magazine, a publication that seemed to be on jolly good terms with the studio judging by the amount of exposure their characters got. For the benefit of non-UK readers, Look-In was originally "the junior TV Times" (that is, a TV listings magazine) for 8-15 year olds. It contained comic strips, posters and exclusive interviews and features on whatever TV or pop stars were big at the time.
Look-In ran for about 20 years, eventually kicking the bucket in 1992 when it became clear that adolescent girls would rather read More! magazine and adolescent boys would rather read nothing. The last Cosgrove Hall character that graced its pages was Count Duckula, who bowed out in about 1991.
DM enjoyed a long and healthy career in Look-In in the 1980s, originally on two full-colour pages, with each story either a one-off or continuing over two or three weeks for extra excitement. Later, the comic strip changed from colour to black-and-white, then finally became a mere three-panel affair before disappearing in the late 1980s.
It was drawn by Look-In regular Arthur Ranson, who also drew the Alias and Duckula comic strips (see below). On the writing side, Angus Allan was the major creative force, and was rewarded for his efforts by being made a scriptwriter on the cartoon itself. No mean feat, eh? If you watch the credits of Dangermouse carefully, you can often see him listed as "Angus Allan (of Look-In magazine)".
Click here to read an interview with Angus Allan, exclusive to Cosgrove Hall Ate My Brain!
Dangermouse in America
Dangermouse also had his own strip in some issues of the Marvel Duckula comics, although the American writers didn't have such a good feel for the show; specifically, they didn't seem to "get" Penfold at all, and often found excuses to not have him around. See below for more about the Marvel Duckula series. I'm afraid I don't actually know if DM ever had his own comic in either Britain or the States (or any other country for that matter); I certainly never saw one. Can anyone shed any light on this?
Alias the Jester
Alias, not surprisingly, had a star turn in Look-In magazine between late 1985 and around 1987 (The A-Team and Cannon and Ball also had Look-In strips at that time unbelievable!!) Like Dangermouse, Alias started off on a colour double page before eventually slipping to a black-and-white 3 panel strip. I think the 3-panel strips had a different artist, too. The two-page stories, as shown by the sample on the left, were drawn by Arthur Ranson. Some of these stories stretched over a number of weeks, rather than being self-contained.
This is my specialist comic subject, so strap yourself in for a long haul!
Duckula in Look-In
Duckula's comic debut was guess what in Look-In, where his full-colour, two page stories started running the exact same week as his first TV appearance. It ran in every issue until the TV show finished, in about mid-1991. Unlike DM, Duckula enjoyed two pages and colour throughout his entire run; also unlike DM, only a handful of Duckula's adventures lasted more than one week. This strip was a nice piece of work; the stories captured the spirit of the show very faithfully, and Arthur Ranson's artwork was attractive and precise as ever.
The Duckula comics
It was fairly inevitable that such a popular show would get its own comic, and sure enough it did, in roughly the summer of 1989. Published by an obscure and now long-dead company named Celebrity Publications, the first Duckula comic series was fairly endearing, although pitched at a slightly younger audience than I suspect were actually watching the show. It was a fortnightly mix of comic strips (usually two per issue, although it did vary), one story, and a page or two of activities. Regular artists included Alan Case, Brian Williamson and Cosgrove Hall storyboard man Vincent James (who later went on to create kiddies' show Philbert the Frog, if you care). The artwork on the whole wasn't as polished as the Look-In strips, but it usually had a certain enthusiastic charm.
Not very long after the above series finished, another one started which was virtually the same (it may in fact have been a revamp of the same thing, but it definitely started with issue 1 again). I can't remember who published this version, I'm afraid, nor exactly what was in it, so any submissions would be gratefully accepted. I do recall that it didn't have a very long run, ending (I think) sometime in 1992.
Duckula in America
Duckula's popularity in America on the kids' channel Nickelodeon was sufficient for him to get his own bi-monthly U.S. comic book series, published by Marvel. The first story of the first issue was also released as a one-off special comic in Britain a short time before the show debuted. The Marvel series was by all accounts quite popular, but was inevitably geared very heavily towards the American audience, with Americanized dialogue and numerous references to U.S. sports and TV stars (including a memorable guest appearance by Geraldo Riviera in one issue!). The comic book ran for 15 issues, until January 1991. A number of artists worked on this series, including Rusty Haller, Warren Kremer and Howie Post. The stories were written by Michael Gallagher. The different art styles ranged from quite nice to, in my view, bloody awful; there are some samples below, so make up your own minds. Dangermouse, who was also still doing well in the States at that time, starred in his own strip in the later issues.
Samples from various issues of the Marvel Duckula series
Duckula in newspapers
From 1989 onwards, Duckula also had an unlikely home in, of all places, the colour magazine which came free with the News of the World (a Sunday tabloid, for all you foreign readers). This cute little offering ran until about 1991 and went through an assortment of artists, including Alan Case and Vincent James again, as well as studio employees Jez Hall and Malcolm McGookin. Naturally, given the limited space, there wasn't much in the way of a story in fact, most weeks it was just a single corny joke stretched to its absolute limit. But some of them were surprisingly funny (the one on the right is my favourite!)
- John's Look Out! Web site has lots of smart-looking information about Look-In magazine. Sadly, it concentrates on the celebrity rather than cartoon-based strips, but it's a good place to start if you want to learn more about this publication.
- Visit the Comic Originals Web site to learn more about artist Arthur Ranson, who worked on all of the characters discussed above, and many other projects besides.
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