Polystyle Publications Ltd
The 1977 TV Comic Annual

Published 1976 Cover image
SBN (not ISBN) 85096 057 6

Starring the fourth Doctor and Sarah


A Review by Finn Clark 9/9/04

Another late-seventies TV Comic annual. Sigh. It's short (64 pages), it's rubbish and my review of it will be brief. The format is identical to the last two (Tarzan short story, five-page Doctor Who comic strip and assorted lame funnies) and as a reading experience it's pretty much indistinguishable from 'em. Doctor Who excepted, there's little here you'd remember for longer than it takes to turn the page.

I'm starting to have my suspicions about Tarzan, who's Jane-less and instead has a close companion called Boy. Dad's Army remains the lone beacon in a swamp of mediocrity, though I was unconvinced by Captain Mainwaring's amazing feat of writing a whole pantomime (complete with dialogue in rhyming couplets!) in one evening. Tom and Jerry are getting less violent, instead choosing to inflict pain on each other (and the reader) with tedious puns. In fact lots of these stories end with a punning punchline. These stories must die.

On the upside, there's a new strip: Captain Pugwash! Disappointingly there's no Roger the cabin boy, Master Bates or Seaman Staines (as have been made famous by urban legend) but even without them I've always kinda liked Pugwash. Even the art is a notch or two above the rest of the book.

Beep Beep the Road Runner is gone. I can't say I miss him, but his rhyming dialogue was slightly amusing even though I wanted to see his three brats turned into Kentucky Fried Road-Runner.

The Doctor Who story is another painted five-pager, The Tansbury Experiment. John Canning's back on art duties for the first time since 1971 and the results are rather good! The story is a Godzilla rehash in which a mad scientist creates an insanely ever-growing sea lizard, but what the hell. It's fun. The lizard destroys a lighthouse, a fishing boat and a Royal Navy ship before the Doctor finally lures it to its destruction with the mating cry of a female lizard. (Do lizards have mating cries? How do they know it's male? How do they know it's heterosexual? Does its erection leave tracks on the beach?)

This is a good comic strip, with a decent story and attractive art. It even has characterisation, with a pompous Navy admiral and a textbook mad professor. "At last, I will prove my theory to those disbelieving fools! Expose the conductor, Hutchins!"

Things I learned from reading this book:

  1. Professional vets can't tell the difference between a pantomime horse and a real one.
  2. Butterfly hunting is evil.
  3. Ice cream vans drive though the desert.
  4. If you're having trouble transporting an elephant through the jungle, try roller skates.
  5. Writing a complete pantomime only takes one evening, instead of (as it took when I did it) a whole summer.
To all intents and purposes, this is a five-page 4th Doctor comic strip printed in hardback form with 59 pages of filler. Dad's Army is worth a read (once) and I kinda like Captain Pugwash, but otherwise there's nothing to see. By next year circulation problems would have triggered a relaunch as Mighty TV Comic. I can't say I'm surprised.