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Mostly boys stories with a few one line comic strip jokes and "Spadger's Spot for Puzzles".

I remember the Wizard because it had - for quite a while - that preposterously un-PC front page, Spadger's Isle. In fact the reason I looked for it on the Internet was because a friend of mine brought back from Thailand a tube of Darkie Toothpaste, with a libellous picture upon it of what in those days (1940s and earlier) would have been referred to uninhibitedly as a Nigger. (You may not believe it if you are under 40, say, but I remember Nigger shoe polish - that was the colour, not the brand - and ads for ladies gloves at Harrods which listed the colours available as Navy, Nigger, Beige etc. ).

What has it to do with Spadger? Well, simply that Spadger's Isle was a bird's eye view of an island run by some man called Spadger and his younger sidekick - they employed black labourers (referred to cheerfully by Spadger as 'the Nigs') of stupefying imbeciility, whom one could observe putting up lop-sided shacks and doing all manner of idiotic things through misunderstanding simple instructions. I don't know whether you are familiar with these old editions of the Wizard. I was hoping I would be able to find an illustration or two to show my American friend how things were in those days in Britain, but have had no luck. But as experts I'm sure you know all this.

I also remember people reading the Wizard when I was in the army (from 1953 to 1956). My regiment was the 15th/19th Hussars, which was part of the Royal Armoured Corps - in training we wore a RAC badge which consisted of a mailed fist surmounted by a crown. Needless to say it was called 'the Wanking Spanner'. This was evidently not known to the editors of the Wizard, for they produced a WWII story called 'Sergeant Blake of the Iron-Fists'. This was read avidly by the troops. - Nigel Eddis

Reading The Wizard regularly for a period in the late 40s or early 50s, I remember a number of serialized stories. For example, ‘V for Vengeance’ (I think it was called) involved the Deathless Men, dressed in grey and with masks, ex-inmates of concentration camps, seeking out German war criminals and assassinating them. A football-based serial involved a team (Darby Rangers possibly) with a gipsy centre-forward named Ishmael and another player with a leg disability called Limpalong Leslie (!) who specialized in bending the ball (quite an unusual concept in those days, especially given the material footballs were then made of). Another one involved a pacifist character called Johnny Appleseed who went around planting apple trees in the pioneer west, totally unarmed but protected from assorted villains by the ferocious Slocum! of the Six Knives. I think Appleseed was a real person, but has since become legendary. There was also a story, set in the future, in which Britain was conquered by the Kumasi, cruel and oriental of course. Opponents of the new regime were ‘extinguished.’ The Kumasi were eventually thrown out through the resistance’s ability to develop new weapons technology. Then there were the Wilson serials starting, I think, with the one in which most of the England test team was killed in an air crash on the way to Australia and Wilson took over a ragbag of nonentities and made them into a team which won the Ashes. His thunderous fast bowling is the main feature, shattering stumps and sightscreens. Then there were other Wilson serials involving his unbeatable running, and hints that he had been around for a hundred years or more. Another cricketing story (title unremembered) involved an outrageous character called Briggs (possibly no first name), basically a working class caricature who upset his middle-class colleagues in the team, not to mention their opponents. A superb bowler (spin), he ties the batsmen in knots. But he also appeals for lbw when fielding at square leg. Sergeant Blake, I recall, was mysteriously able to strut around occupied Europe in his British army uniform helping British PoWs. Later, a few single-page comic strips appeared. Wilson’s exploits appeared in this format and I remember that Desperate Dan did also, much to my surprise. - Martin White

Wilson? Surely to give him his full title, The Amazing Wilson? And not only was he around a long time: the cartoon version suggested he frequently and mysteriously reincarnated. It would be interesting if a canny promoter staged a one-off mid-distance race between Wilson, Alf Tupper, some token toffs and any number of Eastern Europeans. - Chris Marshall

Alf Tupper first appeared in the Wizard as a prose story in 1949 and the stories were put into comic strip form in 1962 as DC Thompson's began scouring their archives for characters to update for the newly published Victor. - John Crumpton

I remember Wilson being a fairly scrawny lad born centuries ago, who wore a one-piece, tight fitting black woollen knitted costume. He was on his own, so doubtless some tragedy had left him an orphan. He seemed to live on the moors, probably in a cave, and his main aim in life was to lift a massive boulder over his head. This scenario was maybe set up by a wizard, or mystery man. Anyhow he eventually made it, and became immortal, while his spartan living and dedicated training made him unbeatable in any sporting challenge. This would have been in the 1940's and maybe it was artful propaganda - persuading the starving population that strict exercise, no smoking or drinking, and living on spartan rations would make us champions,and of course, win the war.

My first comic in about 1938-39 was Radio Fun. I was 3 or 4 years old and there was a Scotland Yard story which my Dad had to read to me as soon as it arrived. I think it concerned Inspector Stanley and his sidekick Constable Bloom. This was probably a bit of clever parental propaganda, because it made me determined to learn to read it for myself, which I very quickly did.

I have just found your site after typing "Splinter Kelly" into Google - without success, but "Rockfist Rogan" did the trick. Does anyone know where I got Splinter Kelly from? I'm sure he was a character in either Champion, Hotspur or Wizard, and I have the impression he was in the RAF. Maybe not, as I also get the gist of a catchphrase which sounds like "The one man brains trust" ... maybe senility's taking over.

I'm certainly confused over which character was in which comic. Remember Cannonball Kidd, I'm pretty sure he played for England while he was still at school. Then there was APE Carew who was a godlike prefect who our hero fagged for. The Ape could play any sport brilliantly, pass exams easily, settle disputes skilfully, all while keeping our hero (whose name I forget) out of trouble. Not sure how it would read these days. Regards, - Cass Cassidy

Have I imagined it or was there a Wizard character called Limp Along Leslie: a soccer playing little shepherd boy who, because he had one leg shorter than the other, had such an amazing body swerve that he was snapped up to play on the wing in the 1st Division? I think he also has a sheepdog that used to run up and down the touchline alongside him. Then again, I could be wrong. - Mike Pearson

I recall Cannonball... Didn't he burst footballs with the power of his shot? Mind you, I have seen mention of him on eBay, and in connection with the Hotspur comic, one I shall buy if I win the auction! Although, I seem to remember him from the Wizard. I wonder if he had a free transfer?

Remember Ishmael, Limp-a-along Leslie's gypsy team mate, who never trained? And how Limp-along could swerve the ball and always send a goalkeeper the wrong way? That too, with an old-fashioned leather and laced ball. Predating Beckham by a few years eh? Weren't they in the Adventure comic though? No never-mind. Those were the days - JW

The article entitled Crumbs! Comic heroes storm art world in the Observer newspaper of 12 September 2004 includes this paragraph: 'Wilson made his dramatic arrival in Wizard in 1943. A British champion runner, who had lived rough on the Yorkshire moors for an unlikely 150 years, he was hailed as a welcome wartime morale booster. Wilson's stablemate in Rover (and Victor) was Alf Tupper who, from 1949, regularly trounced his 'toffee-nosed' opponents in the big race - then headed home for a fish and chips supper. - Martin White

What about Capt. Sampson and Chung with club "Clicka Ba" fighting the Afghans in the Kyhber Pass? All good stuff the late 20's early 30's. I swapped em' all Wizard, Hotspur.,Skipper,Adventure. I am nearly 82 and I can see them all. The Big Stiff, Mr. Smudge, the Black Sapper. Wonderful stories and not an expletive anywhere- Norman Mercer

I remember reading a few of the early issues back in the day and i'm pretty sure Leslie ended playing football for a good team. If i remember he was pretty good at swerving the ball. I think he used to practice while out and about on his family's farm.- Gary Storey

The Amazing Wilson in The Wizard Comic around 1940 - 50 I had a heated argument with a friend about the origins of 'Wilson' My friend is convinced Wilson first appeared in an RAF story. I seem to remember the first Wilson story placed him as a young boy during the Napoleon period. He was sent with a very important message between Army posts and made some incredible leap over a high wall to get into a fortress. All a bit hazy but is there anyone out there who can verify this story. In later life ( but still not looking any older ) he emerged under the name of Green. Help anyone ??- Porow

I also have an odd year of this (roughly a year's worth from the middle of 1947-48). It featured a very un-PC comic strip called Spadger's Isle on the cover in which various black people called "Nigs" on an island did stupid things, whilst talking in an "Uncle Tom" type way. It was similar to later big "joke pictures" in stories such as the Bash Street Kids. Aside from the ridiculously racist caricatures (which are now "so shocking" they are actually funny again) the cartoon was actually quite charming. Wilson was another popular character, who later appeared in comic strips in other papers. He was born in the eighteenth century and didn't seem to age at all as he performed amazing sporting feats, whilst shunning publicity and riches. He also appears to have spent time in the RAF and, according to one site i have read, was "last seen in 1943 in a blazing Spitfire over the channel". However in the issues i have he was back, and "seeking champions" in a series of short self-contained stories in which he hunted for champion sportsmen to compete in the Olympics. In the 70's or 80's a short-lived comic, also called Wizard, was produced. It seems to have been of the "hardcore" type of comic, personified by Action, Battle and Warlord. I don't think the later Wizard lasted very long.- Michael Martin

Not the kumasi but THE CUSHANANTIES not sure if it was spelt with a C or a K The oriental race that invaded Europe twice I believe During The Wizards time.- Bill Dancock

My friend and I are both in our late seventies and we both remember the Wizard and Wilson from our boyhood in Manchester. We now live on Vancouver Island, Canada, and although we can recall many of Wilson's feats in athletics -always in a black knitted track suit - we don't know anything about his origins and background. More important, we have no idea who wrote the Wilson stories and for how long. Anybody know - we would love to ! - Alan Jay

This story or at least one of them was called Will O the Wisp it involved the English resistance being in the Welsh Hills and running old steam engines such as the City of Truro.I seem to recall that the invasion was carried by using sleeping gas first and that the invaders were poor at technology and the TV broadcasts they made kept going wrong. - Paul Hyder

As I recall the two characters in Spadger's Isle were 'Skipper Sam' and the younger one was Spadger. One bit of introductory doggerel went something like: "Spadger is digging a coal mine and they're having the time of their lives. They never go bust 'cos they're selling the dust as face powder for black nigger wives" I don't think I can sign my real name after writing that these days. - Tony Moss.

Was it the Wizard (or perhaps the Hotspur) that had the wartime story "My school flies a Hurricane" about a British plane landing in occupied France and the pilot and plane were safely hidden by a school and helped the pilot make regular sorties to attack German targets ? The Wilson stories were especially popular with me for obvious reason and the various series were titled differently, I think the first one was called either "Wilson" or "The amazing Wilson" followed by "The truth about Wilson" and then "The further truth about Wilson" all of these gained me much undeserved respect at school at the time. - Colin Wilson

My family emigrated to New Zealand in 1958, and I remember my gran and aunt still in the UK sending me copies of the Wizard for quite a while, 58 to maybe 61/62. One series I remember was "The wee white ball" a story based on golf. Maybe my memory is slightly passed it's use by date (I am 62 now) but silly things like that stick in your memory. - Ken Thackeray

My memory of the man was really about his origins which started in my mind with a flight across Tibet on his way back to prep school after spending his hols with mater and pater. The plane crashes in the mountains and all are killed except Wilson who is rescued by a passing lhama who saves his life by transferring the heat from his body into Wilson who was by this time getting rather cold. He was then adopted by the monks who bring him up by teaching him all these amazing yoga skills until he was repatiated after the war. So he returns to England a superhuman and his athletic adventures begin. I was so impressed by this story that later on in life I studied Zen in California met up with people like allen watts and the whole 60s spiritual scene. ps I still get up at 4:30 to meditate though I wouldn’t like to take on Wilson - Anthony Golding

I am 88 years old and remember well Chung and his club Clickaba which appeared in the Wizard. If anyone else remembers him perhaps they'd drop me a line and we can compare memories. - Terry Taylor

As I remember "clickaba" was a cricket bat bound with brass re-enforcing hoops to fell any intruder or enemy. I am unsure but I remember one Jabir Dhinn who I think was a character in the story. - Peter Duff

I also remember a story of Britain under Oriental occupation, which I think appeared in "The Wizard"-was it possibly entitled "Under the Yellow Sword"? - Algr1415

Regarding Porow's question:

I remember Wilson appearing in a prison camp using the name of Green, and he befriended a RAF flyer who by virtue of his injuries when escaping from his burning aircraft, had been condemned to being a permanent cripple. He persuaded this man to do exercises, mainly relating to kneeling on a chair with his good leg and swinging the crippled one. This treatment was decried by the camp M.O. but the flyer (whose name regrettably I forget) persisted with the treatment and it finally came good!

The flyer later became an athlete in his own right when the war ended, he was released and demobbed. Wilson's true identity was later revealed.

This story must have circulated in The Wizard circa 1947-8. - Ray Scott

As I recall the Briggs [bouncing briggs character] was a goalkeeper ...who was also a sort of scrap metal self employed ...who it said only ever lost one goal ..no one could score past him ...but a gypsy forcast a certain cup would lead to disaster ...and low and behold his team reached the cup final ...before the dreaded incident ..it was truely compulsive reading for fourpence there was also an entire mystery football [who no one had ever heard of thrashing everyone ] and ...'brains in his fingers' and 'chained to his bat ' not even a hint of SM folks I had to look to the 'school freind ' for stories involving those gals whom I was rapidly becoming interested in I even progressed to 'spic an span' and lost interest in Wilson's exploits what a pity ..all that fantasti9c stuff - Tony Willis

Regarding Algr1415 memory of the Wizard story of Britain under Asiatic occupation:

I believe the story may have been called 'The Yellow Flag' - rather than 'Under the Yellow Sword'. From distant memories of reading some episodes while in hospital when I was young, it told of the local resistance led by a schoolteacher called Eric Maitland, his brave pupils and local poachers armed with catapults against the invaders who had somehow managed to conquered Britain without any nuclear war. Acts of sabotage by the resistance caused nasty reprisals. Oddly, the limited, silent weaponry of the poachers proved to be a match for the automatic weapons of the Oriental occupiers - who were busy informing and altering the maps and schoolbooks of the local schoolchildren to show that now the longest rivers, highest mountains, etc. were all in the land where the occupiers came from - rather than as previously thought! I never knew how it all ended, but no doubt the heroic village schoolmaster and his resistance army eventually drove the Asiatic hordes from our shores. I also recall a memorable mono strip in the Wizard, I think, called 'They Came from Behind Everest' - or something similar. These were the stories of a little band of adventures with a tough leader, who - rather than carry a handgun - used a 'Catabow' (a cross between a catapult and a small, horizontal steel bow to fire small arrows or bolts with devastating effect). The rest of the band comprised a boy and a girl and a strange, small two-headed person called 'Glick and Glock' and possibly a few others. A most unusual story and I regret not knowing how it started or ended, due to the lack of earlier, or later copies of the comic available to me. I tried to make a 'Catabow' later but without success as I had no way of tempering the bow as a boy. Recently, while studying pre-war 'Geco' gun catalogues, I discovered that identical weapons were sold in Germany around 1930 - so possibly the author - or artist of "They Came from Behind Everest' was aware of this! - John Atkins

I don’t see any mention of The Cannonball Kid. I’m sure he was in the Hotspur around 1948. Does anyone remember the front cover depicting a football being sliced in half with a scimitar? - Tony Boulton

I remember lanky’s short column in the wizard. You were asked to write in about a friend or schoolpal, who was an accomplished sportsman.
I wrote about a school friend of mine who excelled at most sports. His name was Dave Munks, he was a complete all rounder, tennis, athletics, cricket, basketball but in particular football. Whilst at school he represented Sheffield City Boys (my brother played in the same team) and went on to play for Yorkshire schools.
Dave eventually signed for Sheffield United and was a member of their first team for three seasons before being transferred to Portsmouth F.C, Swindon and Exeter.

The main reason though I submitted this information was, if your entry was successful, the prize was a ‘Smiths 5 jewel Empire’ wrist watch, for both the person who submitted the entry and the ‘Sportsman of the Week’.
I still have mine,50 years on, don’t know about Dave though, because we lost touch when he relocated to play for Portsmouth and I now live in Ireland.
Hope this info helps ,but as far as I remember Lanky’s spot for sport was about winning watches! - Steve Howson

I remember reading about Wilson when he played cricket. He bowled so fast that he shattered wickets, sight screens etc. The only batsman who could play him was called Bert Bunting. He used to score masses of runs but he would hear a bird singing and would then lose his wicket because he was too busy bird watching to keep his eye on the ball. - David Miles

Can you help me trace a front-page comic strip (in the Wizard, I think - but it may have been the Rover or Hotspur) that I used to love when I was very small - back in the late 1940s and/or early 1950s...?
All I know for sure is that it was an adventure strip based on true historical events - set in North East United States and South East Canada - involving the wars between British and French armies and their (Algonquin) Indian collaborators (Mohicans and Hurons respectively.)
It was very, very absorbing - at least it was to me when I was about 7 to 12 years of age) Any chance that anyone out there knows what I'm talking about…? I'd dearly love to trace those stories and the comic they were in. - John Cox - London UK

I took the Wizard for several years after WW2 until girls came along!

I remember a serial about a young boy discovering an long unused overgrown sports field with changing rooms still intact.
He discovered a pair of boots and a leather deflated football and the story grew from there until the game was restored and replayed generally.
I think it was set in the UK and clearly in the then future.

The way the game is overpaying players and with gate entry charges are going up, I can see the British invention of Football going out of popularity and in decline, so probably that Wizard story was set in the mid 21st century!! - Brian Richardson

Omigodd! Shows what happens when you are retired! Yes, Wizard - excellent stuff - I read it from about 1953 to about 1960 or even later until it became more and more comic strips. William Wilson, over 100 years old and lived on roots and berries. V for Vengeance and The Deathless Men - I bought a plastic Luger so that i could be one as well Jack 1 was an English spy who killed a high-ranking SS man and took his place, cutting his face to give the same scar - BUT in using the mirror, put it on the wrong side. No-one noticed! Each person was called Jack with a number and carried a cyanide capsule. My real favourite was The Vigils of Sniper Dennison - I remember them as really quite adult and realistic stories that didn't always portray every German as a Nazi thug. There was one story with a very touching ending when Dennison and a platoon of Germans took on an SS Death Squad and the German platoon leader was killed and died in Dennison's arms. The oriental invasion folk's capital was called Muk, but not sure of their name. Then the almost-always excellent one-page stories. Surely these series above must be available somewhere - I'd really love to read them again. Anyone any ideas?

The Wolf of Kabul, Chung and Clicky-Ba, and Trailer Black as well - not as good as the Wizard overall but these were absolutely iconic stories that I read in the early 1950s - and my dad read the same stories when he was a kid! There's continuity for you! I gave up on all of the comics when they started to become picture strips. What a change in entertainment - 7 stories as I recall, and I would try hard to ration myself to one per evening in bed so that I could spin them out until the next issue. I feel sorry for the kids today with their online games and no personal imaginations and reading matter.

Mickey Mouse Weekly was my first comic from about 1952 along with the Eagle - great stuff. There was a character called Eaga Beeva or a similar spelling who was some kind of strange alien being, and a b+w strip called Robin Alone about a youth a bit like Tarzan, but I don't know in which continent he lived. I wish that ni had kept them - BUT I do still have all my Eagles in the atic! No more Wizards or Rovers or Hotspurs sadly. - Dave Peet

Comic fans everywhere. I was born in 1945 so I would have started my comic reading later than some fans on this site. My comic reading started with Hotspur, Wizard, Rover, Adventure, and I have been a reading addict ever since. I have always had a head full of somewhat useless fact, this I firmly believe because at the top of my comic pages there was always a one line fact. Comics have always been knocked but can you think of an easier and more enjoyable way to learn to read . So thank you to all the comic writers and publishers everywhere. - Bill Twohigg Aka Grandadbill

It was definitely one of the Dundee comics though I’m not 100% sure it was the “Adventure” - it might have been the “Rover” or the “Wizard” - but I certainly well remember reading a fantastic front-cover story that ran and ran for weeks and weeks in the late 1940s or maybe the early 50s...

It was a true historic story in full colour all about the Indian wars in and around the Great-Lakes region of Canada and the USA - between British and French soldiers... And ESPECIALLY the Indian tribes helping them on their respective sides - like the Hurons (who were allied to the French) and another Indian tribe allied to the Brits (called the Mohawks or Mohicans, I think…?)

Does it ring a bell with anyone else...? If so, perhaps you know precisely which comic it was in - and exactly WHEN…? Because I'd love to get my hands on copies of it again and I’m not even sure I saw it all, right to the end.

Whatever - any news would be gratefully received...! - John Cox, Leatherhead, Surrey

Wilson, I recall, was posted missing after his Spitfire disappeared over the Channel. But being Wilson, he swam the 20 miles or so to shore, and climbed the cliff at Beachy Head, before going to ground and reappearing as 'Greene'. While captaining the MCC in Australia, he turned away at the toss, because his eyes were so keen he could tell which way the coin would fall, and that, of course, would not be cricket...

Can anyone remember a series about a council school boy who gets a place at a public school? Was it in the Wizard or one of the others? - Dr Michael Scuffil

I was a big fan of the Rover and Wizard, great stories as young kids we used to act some of them out.

The story of the council kid who went to a public school, was very close to my own. Around 67/68 I made the sporting achievements centre page, there was a photo, sitting on my doorstep, with all the trophies plus victor ladorum. My friend had sent it in and we both won a watch, we couldn't stop smiling.

If anyone has this copy I would really appreciate a photo of the page. - Pete Mnych

If you have any other information on The Wizard please drop us a line. Drop us a line.

 


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