Top Spot
Notes Page

The last pre-strike edition of Top Spot (unnumbered and undated issue for 27 June 1959).

Neither fish nor fowl Top Spot is one of my favourite AP titles. It was an experiment to capture the 16 - 17 year old school leaver (office boy / apprentice) market in the same way that Valentine had become the top selling magazine for teenage girls. It featured articles on fashion, boxing and jazz alongside pin-ups of Brigitte Bardot, Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield, as well as various fiction and non-fiction text stories, and some great swashbuckling, gun blazing strips.

Size wise, it was larger than the normal run of the mill comic - about the size of Weekend or Tit-Bits, and produced on the usual poor quality paper. A young man called Brian Woodford, hitherto an office junior on such AP titles as Playhour, Jack and Jill, Sun and Comet was at the helm of this title until it folded.

Top Spot's publishing period was blighted by the 1959 printing industry strike that plunged Britain back into an agrarian black hole for six weeks in the summer - many comic and magazine titles did not survive this set back, and although Top Spot struggled on with a slightly different format it was eventually merged with Film Fun in January 1960.

Trying to collect issues of Top Spot today is still marred by that long ago strike as numbering and dating are both fuzzy. What follows is an issue guide that I hope will help fellow collectors.

Issue 1 (25 October 1958) to issue 30 (16 May 1959) all appeared weekly on Saturday and were both numbered and dated. I have heard it said that number 13 was not published for bad luck reasons - this is not true.

From 23 May 1959 (issue 31) issues were only dated and continued without interuption until 20 June 1959 (issue 35).

The following week (27 June 1959) an issue (36 in the series) that was neither dated nor numbered appeared (see scan above). This can be accurately dated by the calendar given in its centre pages that shows the month of July 1959 - a feature of Top Spot was that each issue published at the end of the month included a centre-fold pin-up and the calendar for the following month. This was to be the last issue of Top Spot for several weeks.

... what do you mean you want more clothes allowance?" Typical spot illustration for White Queen of a Male Harem (Top Spot 3 Oct 1959)

22 August 1959 (issue 37 in the series) saw the return of Top Spot which continued until the 16 January 1960 (issue 58 in the series), merging with Film Fun the following week (23 January 1960).

During its short life Top Spot published some of the finest western strip stories ever produced by AP: whether these stories were especially commissioned with the paper in mind or were just "art in stock" is unknown - frankly who cares when one could enjoy stories penned by Ernest Haycock, Norman Fox and James Warner Bellah and done such justice by the hands of Geoff Campion, Ruggero Giovannini, Renato Polese, Gino D'Antonio, Arturo Del Castillo, Graham Coton, and Robert Forest.

For those who prefered the sword over the six-shooter, adaptations of stories by Raphael Sabatini abounded, alongside Dumas, Oscar Wilde and Edgar Allan Poe and were brought to life by the likes of Jesus Blasco, Phillip Mendoza and Cecil Doughty. Other historical adaptations were The Bewitching Borgia (Lucretia) and the story of highwayman Jack Sheppard, Maximilian and The Devils Quartermaster (the last two both drawn by Dino Battaglia).

For gritty drama there was the long running series Manhunt by Colin Meritt. Two stories were adapted from P.G. Wodehouse, The Heroic Chump (21 February 1959) and The Bacon and Egg Affair (31 October 1959) both drawn by Cecil Orr.

There was also an irregular "mini-series" featuring a mixture of original archive photographic material and comic strip - these were all of a biographical nature starting with Bargain in Blood (Life of John Dillinger) and going on through The Life and Death of James Dean and The Blacksmiths Punch (life of Bob Fitzsimmons world heavy weight boxer), to name only a few. The artwork for these was done by Ferdinando Tacconi.

The factual text stories ranged across various subjects (usually bloodthirsty) from the gladatorial events in ancient Rome (based on the book Those About to Die by Dan Mannix) to the lives of Burke and Hare (Edinburghs own resurrectionists). The spot illustrations for these stories varied between the adult Men's Stories variety (see sample) to some wonderful illustrations by the likes of Fortunino Matania (the story of the Queen of Sheba).

Fictional text tales were usually on the general themes of murder, westerns, World War two heroics or mystery. Aside from all this there were articles on music (jazz predominating), films and filmstars, sport (boxing, football and for some strange reason quite a few articles on bull fighting), fashion and pinups.

There were several free gifts issued during its life time, these were:

Issue 2 - Top Spots in Sport (16 page booklet)
Issue 3 - Drumming Up the Stars (16 page booklet)
Issue 58 (last 16 Jan 1960) - Top Spot Poppets in 3-D (16 page booklet of pinups with 3-D glasses)
Note: the issue of Film Fun for 23 Jan 1960 gave away a 16 page booklet called Film Fun Stars in 3-D (with glassses)


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