Speed

a.k.a.: N.A.

Publisher: I.P.C.

Format: Weekly comic strip anthology

First Issue: 23rd February 1980

Last Issue: 25th October 1980 (31 issues, only the first three numbered)

Absorbed: None

Absorbed into: Tiger

Strips: The l,000,000 Challenge, Baker's Half-Dozen, Death Wish, The Fastest Footballer On Earth, Hit and Run, Journey To The Stars, Quick On The Draw, Speedboy, Supersmith, Topps On Two Wheels, Winner!;
   (one offs in the ongoing) Low Flight; McCabe of the Pony Express; The Phoenix 500;
   (one-off in annuals/specials) Don't Rile Rinty O'Reilly; Paddy Ryan Athlete's Unlimited; The Ragged Racer; The Battling Birdmen; Paxton's Power House; Triton Jones, Undersea Adventurer; Sleekswift the Cheetah

Comments: Speed was launched on 23rd February 1980, a new boys' comic from IPC in an era where many new launches utilised a shared theme behind all of the stories. Common options included sport (sometimes in general, sometimes a single sport such as football (Score)), science fiction (2000A.D. or Starlord), war (Battle), and horror (Scream), but Speed's went for something different, as the title suggested: all things swift moving. The first three issues came with a free; for issue#1 this was a "Speed Plane" (which was sellotaped to the cover, hence why you see very few copies of the first issue that don't have chunks missing from the cover from when the tape was removed).

   Set in 1942 and the North African conflict, Mike Western's Baker's Half Dozen saw the mysterious and brutal Sergeant Baker rescuing six stranded Allied soldiers from death at Nazi hands and turning them into a fast moving raiding force while they tried to return to Allied lines. It's been collected and reprinted by Hibernia Comics, and is well worth checking out.

   Ron Turner's Journey to the Stars was the saga of the Redford family - astronomer father Sam, his teenage children Gina and Andy, and the family dog Digger - who were all kidnapped by an alien spaceship which then took them across space "at a speed beyond your understanding." Speedboy was Tim Barlow, a secondary school pupil obsessed with high velocity, however it was attained, while Topps on Two Wheels featured stunt bike rider Eddie Topps, and the self-explanatory Fastest Footballer on Earth told the tale of Mickey "Flash" Jordan, an exceptionally swift soccer player who came to the rescue of struggling 4th division team Mudport United.

   The Western tale Quick on the Draw told of Native American Johnny Storm's hunt for vengeance against the Morton Gang who had murdered his parents. Aware he lacked the requisite fighting skills to take down the gang, Storm enlisted the reluctant help of aging gunfighter Luke Cassidy to train him. Meanwhile, The 1,000,000 Challenge was an example of one of the more unusual types of British strips, an audience participation series. The strip's star, "Bullet" Slick, was an embittered millionaire whose own quest for thrills had left him in a wheelchair, paralysed from the waist down. Now he offered readers the titular one million pounds if they could come up with a speed-related concept that could impress him - or, as inevitably happened, a more meagre five pounds if he used their idea in the strip but wasn't won over. The final strip of the beginning line-up featured thrill-seeker Blake Edmonds, a handsome celebrity whose life was turned upside down when the small plane he was piloting during a race crashed and burned, leaving him with hideous facial scars. Struggling to adjust, Edmonds began taking on increasingly risky challenges, seemingly having gained a Death Wish. The centre pages of each issue were given over to The Speed Collection, a series of posters featuring pictures or art of fast moving vehicles, each with an accompanying The Speed Article about them, while the back pages featured sportspeople and celebrities "connected with the world of speed."

   Baker's Half Dozen, Quick on the Draw and Journey to the Stars eventually concluded, and were replaced by Supersmith, the tale of a podgy tea-boy inadvertently turned into a fast moving superhero, World War II fighter pilot drama Hit and Run, and Winner!, starring top Grand Prix driver Trevor Watson who became involved in a major crash that resulted in several other drivers being killed. Despite advice from doctors that he had suffered brain damage and should never race again, and public opinion that blamed him for the fatal crash, Watson was determined to race again. Hit and Run only lasted seven weeks, and its vacated slot was filled in the title's final three weeks by a run of one-off tales.

   Regular features through the entire run were posters, usually in the centre pages (Speed Collection) and back pages (By Special Request). The Speed Collection posters were also commonly accompanied by The Speed Article, giving details about the subject of the poster. As mentioned above, and as was very common with British comics, the first three issues came with free gifts, while later ones included pages that could be removed to form booklets or posters. Additionally, the four issues from 5th July to 26th July showcased a nationwide treasure hunt competition, giving readers across Great Britain (but not Northern Ireland) clues to follow that would lead them to hidden treasure chests.

   Speed only lasted 31 unnumbered issues, missing several weeks due to industrial action (there were no issues published between the 17th May and 28th June issues, a gap of 6 weeks) and cancelling on 25th October 1980, to be merged with Tiger a week later. Supersmith and The 1,000,000 Challenge ended, the latter with Bullet Slick regaining his ability to walk thanks to the final reader's challenge. Death Wish and Topps on Two Wheels transferred to Tiger, with the former proving so successful in its new home that it subsequently survived Tiger's merger into Eagle a few years later. Unusually, the remaining strips carried the merger concept even further. Flash Jordan accepted a transfer to First Division Kingsbay, becoming part of the cast in Roy of the Rovers' Marks Brothers strip, while Tim Barlow moved home with his parents, and found himself joining Billy Dane's school and football team in Billy's Boots. As for Trevor Watson, he ended his run in Tiger's File of Fame feature.

   There was also a Speed Summer Special released while the weekly was coming out, and there were two Speed Annuals, dated 1981 and 1982. As was very common for such publications, alongside articles, features and new stories based on characters appearing in Speed the page count was padded out with reprints of stories from earlier IPC titles.

Topps On Two Wheels appeared in every issue of Speed, as well as the Summer Special and both Annuals. He survived Speed's merger into Tiger.

Quick On The Draw ran from the first issue of Speed until the 21st (16th August 1980); it also appeared in Speed Annual 1981.

Journey To The Stars ran from the first issue of Speed until the 21st (16th August 1980); there was also an illustrated text story in Speed Summer Special 1980, and in the Speed Annual 1981.

Death Wish appeared in every issue of Speed, as well as the Summer Special and both Annuals. He survived Speed's merger into Tiger.

The l,000,000 Challenge appeared in every issue of Speed, as well as the Speed Annual 1981.

Speedboy appeared in every issue of Speed, as well as the Summer Special and both Annuals. Though his strip didn't survive Speed's merger into Tiger, the title character did, becoming a supporting cast member in Billy's Boots.

Baker's Half-Dozen ran from the first issue of Speed until the 21st (16th August 1980); there was also an illustrated text story in Speed Annual 1981

The Fastest Footballer On Earth appeared in every issue of Speed, and though his strip didn't survive the merger into Tiger, the lead character continued, transferring to a different comic entirely, Roy of the Rovers, where he became a supporting cast member in The Marks Brothers strip.

   The Fastest Footballer on Earth didn't appear in the Speed Summer Special or either Annual.

Hit and Run ran from the 22nd issue of Speed (23rd August 1980) until the 28th (4th October 1980). With only a few weeks left prior to the comic's cancellation it wasn't replaced with a new ongoing story, but with a string of one-shot tales.

Winner! ran from the 22nd issue of Speed (23rd August 1980) until the 31st and final issue (25th October 1980). Its story continued in Tiger's File of Fame following Speed's merger with that title.

Supersmith ran from the 22nd issue of Speed (23rd August 1980) until the 31st and final issue (25th October 1980).

Low Flight was a one-shot three page story that appeared in Speed's 29th issue (11th October 1980). It told the tale of a Scottish teenager keen to join the RAF when he got older, who discovered a fighter jet that had been downed during a blizzard while practicing low altitude flying.

McCabe of the Pony Express was a one-shot three page story that appeared in Speed's 30th issue (18th October 1980).

The Phoenix 500 was a one-shot three page story that appeared in Speed's 31st and final issue (25th October 1980), which recounted an ill-fated attempt to rob the Phoenix 500 race and escape in stolen racing cars.

Don't Rile Rinty O'Reilly by Geoff Campion appeared in Speed Summer Special 1980. It was originally published in Tiger (10th Feb 1962-10th March, then 24th March). The reprint skipped the 17th March installment.

Paddy Ryan's Athletes Unlimited also appeared in Speed Summer Special 1980; it was likewise originally published in Tiger (13th Jan -17th Feb 1962).

The Ragged Racer by John Vernon was published in Speed Annual 1981, but originally appeared in Tiger (20th March-8th May 1965).

The Battling Birdmen was in Speed Annual 1981, and was originally published in Tiger (19th March-25th June 1966).

Paxton's Power House was in Speed Annual 1982; unlike most of the filler reprints in the Speed Annuals it didn't originally hail from Tiger, but from Scorcher Annual 1971.

Triton Jones, Undersea Adventurer appeared in Speed Annual 1982, and was originally published in Tiger (20th September-1st November 1969).

Sleekswift the Cheetah appeared in Speed Annual 1982; if it was reprinted from elsewhere, I've yet to find where, and given that the story would have fitted Speed's remit it may actually have been originally planned for the weekly comic, but didn't get an opportunity to be used there. IPC still got its money's worth out of the tale though, as it was later reprinted in Eagle Annual 1991.

Non-strip content

The Speed Collection / The Speed Article

Most issues of Speed also included a poster and article about something related to Speed.
#1: Concorde - high speed passenger jet
#2: The HS125 high speed intercity train
#3: Barry Sheene, motor-cycling ace
#4: HMS Speedy, the Royal Navy's first hydrofoil
#5: The Cheetah
#6: The Fire-Fighters
#7: Peter Barnes, football player
#8: The River Police
#9: The Lightning Interceptor jet
#10: The Sky-Divers
#11: Essex Lotus, a Grand Prix car
#12: Hovercraft
#13: The Peregrine Falcon
#14: The Parachute Regiment
#15: None. Replaced by first part of the Speed Treasure Hunt
#16: The Epson Derby
#17: Power-Boats
#18: None. Replaced by fourth and final part of the Speed Treasure Hunt
#19: The Red Arrows stunt fliers display team
#20: The Liberator, the spaceship from Blake's 7
#21: Mike Hendrick, cricketer
#22: Jetfoil. From this point the Speed Collection features artist's depictions rather than photographs.
#23: The Ambulance Service
#24: Poster for Man on the Moon, but the article is about six-year old stunt rider Darius Goodwin, a.k.a. Might Mite
#25: Go-Kart Racing
#26: F-15A Eagle jet
#27: USS John F. Kennedy
#28: Poster for Rocket Missiles (see below), but the article is about the traffic police
#29: Continuing poster for missiles, while article is about Ian Botham.
#30: Continuing missiles poster, while article is about Karate
#31: Final part of missiles poster, while article is about the Lifeboat Service

By Special Request/Speed Special Request

Nearly every issue featured a poster, usually on the back cover, showcasing something related to speed that had been suggested by a reader. Each reader whose suggestions were used was sent 3.
#1: Sebastian Coe, Olympic sprinter
#2: The Scorpion Tank
#3: John Watson, Grand Prix driver
#4: "Supersonic" Stan Barrett, first person to break the sound barrier on land, in a rocket car
#5: Ivan Mauger, World Speedway champion
#6: David Wilke, Olympic swimmer
#7: Harrier jet
#8: Gilles Villeneuve, Grand Prix driver
#9: Sonia Lannaman, Commonwealth Games sprinter
#10: Eric Heiden, Olympic speed skater
#11: HMS Invincible, the Royal Navy's first Through Deck Cruiser
#12: Hang Gliding
#13: John Treacy, cross country racer
#14: None this week
#15: Sea King search and rescue helicopter
#16: Robin Cousins, ice-skating champion
#17: Ian Botham, cricketer
#18: Malcom Pyrah, Grand National Showjumper
#19: John McEnroe, tennis player
#20: Christina Boxer, middle distance runner
#21: HMS Spartan nuclear submarine
#22: Sir Frank Whittle, jet engine pioneer. From this point By Your Request features artist's depictions rather than photographs.
#23: Juan Manuel Fangio, Grand Prix Ace
#24: Peter Twiss, first pilot over 1,000 mph.
#25: John Cobb, "speed king"
#26: Christopher Cockerell, "Hover Power Genius"
#27: Yuri Gargarin, First Man in Space
#28: Brian Jacks, King of the Judo Ring
#29: Matador El Cordobes, King of the Bullring
#30: John Philip Holland, Submarine Pioneer
#31: Reginald Mitchell, aircraft designer

Milestones in Speed

For two issue, #11 (3rd May 1980) and 13 (17th May 1980), Speed included one page illustrated articles about "Milestones in speed"
#11: 1927: Lindberg: Lone Hero of the Air
#13: 1942: Von Braun: Guided Missile Wizard!

#23 (30th August 1980) included a one off page about Barnstormers, presented by 1,000,000 Challenge star Bullet Slick.

Gifts, competitions and giveaways

.#1 Free gift: Speed plane.

#2 Free gift: Speed slide, "packed with facts and figures."

#3 Free gift: Speed games. No image at present.

#6 through 9: World of Speed Booklet - to be torn out and assembled, thus ensuring fewer intact surviving copies of these issues.

#15 through 18 (5th July-26th July 1980) hosted a national competition, spliting Britain into regions as part of a massive treasure hunt. Each issue provided new clues towards finding the locations where each prize had been hidden. The winners were announced in a photo feature in #28 (4th October 1980).

#19 through 22 (2nd August-23rd August 1980) included another pull-out booklet, Champions of the Air..

The final four issues (4th- October 1980) included a four part Rocket Missiles poster.

As was normal with British titles, the final issue heralded the cancellation and merger with Tiger as a positive thing. And thus Speed ended with its 31st issue, barely a footnote in comparison to some of the more enduring British titles. But speaking personally as one of the kids who bought it while it was coming out, it was fun while it lasted.

CLARIFICATIONS:
Speed should not be confused with:


First Posted: Circa 19/10/2010
Last updated: 27/05/2023

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