‘Smash!’ was the most successful of the five ‘Power Comics’ published in Britain in the 1960s by Odhams Press, a division of IPC. Targeted at boys aged 10 to 14, it was published from 1966 to 1971. This article is the first part of an analysis of the causes and consequences of the comic’s relaunch in 1969; a case-study of the economic pressures affecting the UK publishing industry in that period.
Smash! was a weekly British comic, published in London by Odhams Press Ltd from 64 Long Acre and subsequently by IPC Magazines Ltd from (initially) 189 High Holborn and (latterly) Fleetway House in nearby Farringdon Street.
It ran for 257 issues, between 5th February 1966 and 3rd April 1971 (although, due to strikes and industrial disputes, publication was not continuous during that period). It then merged into Valiant. But the Smash! Annual continued to appear every year: the final Annual, cover-dated 1976, was published in October 1975.
Up until 1969, Smash! featured a mixture of American superhero strips alongside British humour and adventure strips. Thereafter, it featured only British strips.
During 1967 and 1968 Smash! was part of Odhams’ Power Comics line, absorbing its sister titles Pow! on 14th September 1968 (issue 137), and Fantastic on 2nd November 1968 (issue 144). As Pow! and Fantastic had themselves already merged with Wham! and Terrific respectively, Smash! in effect absorbed the best strips from all of the Power Comics lineup.
As with all of the Power Comics, Smash! included black-and-white reprints of superhero strips originally published in America by Marvel Comics and DC Comics. The last of these, the Fantastic Four, ended in issue 162 in March 1969.
Smash! was sized 9.75″ x 12″ (#1-162) and 9.25″ x 12″ (#163-257), and had a four-colour cover and black-and-white interior.
History of SMASH
Smash was owned by IPC, the International Publishing Corporation, a company formed in 1963 by Cecil Harmsworth King, chairman of the Daily Mirror and Sunday Pictorial (later the Sunday Mirror), through a series of corporate mergers. All the comics owned by it were published by one or other of the subsidiary companies brought together to form IPC, including Fleetway Publications Ltd and Odhams Press Ltd.
The Power Comics line, including Smash, was published by IPC’s Odhams Press division under a three-man editorial team known as Alf, Bart and Cos. Alfred Wallace (“Alf”) was the managing editor at Odhams, and Albert Cosser (“Cos”) was the editor directly responsible for Smash. Major changes of editorial policy occurred in 1969 for financial reasons, and again in 1970 when IPC was taken over by Albert E Reed to form the publishing giant Reed International.
Launched on 5th February 1966, Smash became part of the Power Comics line from December of that year. On 14th September 1968, with issue 137, it merged with Pow! (which had previously absorbed Wham). On 2nd November 1968, with issue 144, it merged with Fantastic (which had previously absorbed Terrific), to become Smash and Pow incorporating Fantastic.
On 1st January 1969 Smash ceased to be published by Odhams Press Ltd, and was thereafter published by IPC Magazines Ltd (an IPC subsidiary formed during 1968). On 15th March 1969 it was relaunched without its American superhero strips. Further changes followed during the course of 1969 and at the start of 1970. The final issue was published on 3rd April 1971. It then merged into Valiant, forming Valiant and Smash.