By Alan Smith and Irmantas Povilaika.
In the history of British comics there have been many very bizarre adventure strips. Some really way out contenders are `The Mind Stealers` from `Lion` circa 1968-69. There was the 1970 `Hotspur` story `The Jungle from Nowhere` about a tropical jungle that sprouted up across the Welsh border! Then there was the very strange (initially) `Watch Out for the White Eyes` in 1972 `Lion and Thunder` in which any person or creature which inhaled the fumes from broken glass phials became super strong and with eyes turning white.
I vaguely recall a girl’s comic story about a school and its inhabitants suddenly finding themselves on Mars! Then there was a really spooky `Zero X` strip in 1969 `TV 21` concerning jet black sentient, and very malevolent leaves, each having a large eye which could control people if it covered their face! Uugh! Spooky!
However, the story that haunted me for years after I first read it, and is possibly more `way out` than any of those strips I just mentioned was called “Moon Madness”. Of all the quirky, oddball strips ever to appear in UK comics over the years, it must surely rank as the most `off the wall` of all of them!
In one sense “Moon Madness” would have been better suited to the 1950s as by 1966 with great strides in astronomical science quite a lot about what kind of life might (or most likely `not`) exist on the Moon was known. I do recall on the six-O’-clock news, a terse Patrick Moore dismissing a naïve reporters question when the first pictures of the Moons surface were relayed back from Luna-9, regarding the possibility of catching sight of a `Moon creature`! Mr Moore stated, partially sarcastically, that only if virus or bacterial life might have grown very large there might such a sighting is possible.
However, though science fact made the premise of “Moon Madness” quite untenable, it did not stop it being an utter delight to read and enjoy.
It appeared in the Odhams group comic `Smash!` as a two page offering for seven weeks dated 2nd April to 14th May 1966. It was actually conceived by group editor Alf Wallace and drawn brilliantly in black and white by artist Brian Lewis.
Issue eight of `Smash` actually gave a preview of the coming story by displaying part of a real life newspaper story concerning the recent Luna-9 Soviet probe Moon landing. Luna-9 was the first ever successful attempt at a soft landing by an Earth probe which back in early 1966 looked to have given the Soviets a clear lead in the race to get a man on the Moon.
Next to the editorial was a roughly drawn sketch of the Soviet craft about to land on the lunar surface. Next to this was a not too convincing drawing of a large monstrous claw! Thankfully, the strip itself when it commenced the following week would be drawn to far, far higher degree by accomplished artist Brian Lewis.
Alf Wallace had cleverly used the real life Moon landing by the Soviets of unmanned probe Luna-9. The craft had safely touched down on 3rd February 1966 in the area of the Moon known as Oceanus Procellarum (Ocean of Storms) it then started transmitting data by radio signals back to Earth.
The probe terminated its transmissions as was duly expected. Back in 1966 there were no means of re-booting a probe as in the fashion the recent `Voyager` deep space probe had been updated from Earth recently. The Russians had the technology for a few solar panels to recharge batteries when Luna-9 had finished, all expected that to be that!
Inexplicably though! After a few hours it moved its position and restarted transmitting on a different wavelength! Sir Bernard Lovall at Jodrell Bank observatory was totally perplexed by the turn of events. To this day it is unknown as to why Luna-9 s moved position before recommencing transmitting again for a time and on a different frequency! It finally ceased altogether on 6th February 1966.
With this mystery fresh in mind, the story of `Moon Madness` was unveiled to readers of `Smash` in issue No 9 dated April 2nd 1966.
The strip actually sported two differing titles (though nearly identical) the initial issue, issues two and six are titled “Moon Madness”, the others of the run of seven are affixed “The Moon Madness”. So, it’s a matter of choice, I have used the former for this article . . . . Oh! And the title is nothing to do with a certain wild-man drummer of the `Who` rock group!
EPISODE ONE 2nd APRIL 1966.
The opening panel in the strip is an introductory sample for the tone of the story. This truly haunting picture, drawn to perfection by Brian Lewis, shows the by then opened (like a flower) petal arrangement of Luna-9 allowing the spring loaded aerials to function. This and the whole strip were drawn in black and white, which worked far better with this type of tale.
In the distance of the bleak lunar landscape lies stage four, the `payload` section of the craft that had separated just before touchdown. The full globe of planet Earth is displayed at about 30 degrees above lunar horizon. Far more intriguing though is the sight of a diaphanous form, barely humanoid and that is partly transparent, as part of the Earth can be seen shining through it!
What could this mean? As a ten year old reader, I was instantly hooked by the premise.
This story proper begins with an atypical family discussing the newspaper headlines concerning the probe’s lunar landing, of which the Father of the household does not have much confidence in meddling with things in outer space.
A caption informs readers that after relaying data and photographs, the transmissions ceased, (which in reality they did for some hours) we are then told that after some days the probe `awoke` and began relaying information to Earth once more. This is where reality ends and fiction begins.
That evening of the recommenced transmissions, all across the U.K dogs begin to howl and cats to screech as if in torment. Perhaps it is an omen of things to come?
The following morning up in the Perthshire farm of farmer Fairlie, he and his labourer are about their mornings work when they are distracted by a loud bellowing noise. Fairlie deduces it is coming from the old bull that is in the ten-acre field. He drives over by land rover to investigate.
To his amazement, in the adjoining field to where the bull is penned there is a raised mound. It is about six feet in height and stretching out for a long distance. He knows that he only planted turnips in that field, so what can it be?
He phones the local constable who then contacts a nearby R.A.F base at Kinross.
With not too much work at present, there is time to send up a helicopter manned by a sergeant and a corporal. Both men gasp in utter astonishment as they reach the designated field. “Sarge! Do you realise what that thing down there is?” cries the amazed Corporal as they hover above the shape.
From their high perspective they can clearly see that the `mound` has the shape and form of a huge hairy arm and hand that stretch at least 100 feet, or about 33 metres in length. The hand has only three fingers. The bull in the adjoining field can be seen furiously charging the fencing separating the field in ever desperate attempts to break through to the shape.
The men report back to their superior officer what they had seen. Though he believes them, their chief cannot report exactly what they believe it is as it is so bizarre; instead he will pass it along as an unidentified object to be investigated.
Meanwhile back at the farm the enraged bull has finally broken through to the field where the object lies; it rushes towards it furiously. Suddenly! The hair covered arm moves and three huge clawed fingers and a clawed thumb, which had been buried fully below ground, have the bull in a vice like grip! Exit one bull!
“YOU DARE NOT MISS NEXT WEEK’S FANTASTIC INSTALMENT OF `MOON MADNESS!” declared the excited caption below the final panels of the second page of the strip. I certainly dared not and made certain I bought next weeks `Smash` as soon as it came out.
Episode one was a superbly intriguing start to this story, with Brian Lewis outstanding artwork complementing it wonderfully. The story was rather oblique in that it did not clearly tell readers what was happening, but rather hinted at events. This style of storytelling really kept the story enthralling in my view.
This was summed up by the panel portraying both cats and dogs reacting during the night of the recommenced transmissions relaying to readers that something bad was happening, but not exactly what it was. The sight of the giant arm in the farmers field set the mind speculating on how it got there, which ensured that readers such as me were desperate for next weeks issue.
EPISODE TWO 9th APRIL 1966.
The second episode opens with a huge panel that fully complements the image of the giant hairy arm and hand rearing up in the manner of a snake. We now see a 1930s open top `roadster` speeding along a north Scottish road. Its driver is government scientist, Professor John Silverlight who has been asked to look into the mystery.
His thoughts reveal he feels it is a waste of time. “A strange object appears in a field. A bull dies – and I’m asked to make an inspection. Ah, well it’s a nice day for a drive” he muses.
The next moment he gasps in astonishment as a great shape blocks the road. His car is grasped by great clawed fingers and lifted high. The car now falls to ground leaving Silverlight struggling in the grasp of the great hand. He manages to squirm free and falls to ground, luckily landing in a large patch of muddy soil which cushions his fall.
Struggling to his feet, Silverlight makes for a small village which he had only just passed through prior to his horrifying encounter. He blurts out his story to the first villagers he meets, but quite naturally, they think he is delirious, and he does seem to be coming on to a fever.
As Silverlight is helped to rest in one of the cottages, two of the villagers decide to take a walk to the end of the village for a look, just in case there is something that terrified the poor fellow. Their scepticism is shattered as to their horror the raving mans tale is true! A great clawed hand demolishes a cottage as it pulls itself slowly across the village outskirts.
The scene now changes to Wiltshire where a group of army officers have alighted from their land rover close to Stonehenge in Salisbury plain. The reason for their hurried arrival is another great mound right next to the ancient stones. As two of the officers confer one of their subordinates cries out and points at the mound, it is beginning to move!
To their utter astonishment the shape struggles upright to reveal to their amazed eyes that it is a huge pair of densely matted hairy legs and a lower torso, rising to some 150 feet, or 45 metres in height! “Run! Run for your lives!” the senior officer cries out in horror as the figure looms above the men and stones.
The caption at the bottom of the page read “NEXT WEEK: THE SHADOW OF FEAR”
Thankfully, for young readers sensitivities, the legs and lower torso are not designated with any discernible gender, so that was one less thing to worry about! The legs do not seem to have any apparent feet either; they end at the bottom rather like an elephants. I did wonder if any feet might turn up later, but that never happened as the legs were obviously meant to be like that.
Initially, it seemed that the character of John Silverlight was just an incidental figure in the story as he disappeared after reaching the village. He would actually be very vital to the core of the story, but in episode two that was not yet apparent.
A superb episode! The mystery deepened by yet another body part appearing. I was totally hooked and the next `Smash` day could not arrive too soon!
EPISODE THREE 16th April 1966.
The third episode begins with the astonished soldiers that were called out to Stonehenge staring incredulously up at the towering form of the huge hairy legs and lower torso that have just risen up before their amazed eyes.
“Get your men to surround this – this Thing, and don’t let any civilians enter the area” the senior officer barks to his adjutant.
The next panel shows the great hand and arm still scrabbling its way south from its Perthshire starting point.
By now the alarm has gone out and a squadron of Chieftain Tanks are positioned at the southern side of the Forth Bridge. Entering the north side of the construction is the massive arm, still heading south.
At their commanders order all tanks open fire in a huge bombardment that hits the hand full on. To their amazement there has been no effect! “It- it’s still coming on, sir” a terrified tank leader cries to the commanding officer stood next to the tank.
The next moment the hand is crushing the tanks as it scrabbles over them. Fully armoured vehicles are crumpled like tin foil as it carries on its remorseless path; at least one poor soldier is caught in the carnage.
The scene now changes to a hospital ward in St Giles hospital Edinburgh. A small group of men, each the head of a branch of the armed services plus a top civil servant are in conference with a doctor. They desperately need to see professor Silverlight who we now learn has been brought there in a high fever. The doctor explains to the dignitaries that Silverlight is in a state of delirium, but consents to letting them see him.
Silverlight lays motionless in his bed, seemingly oblivious to his visitors. The doctor raises the patients arm a little and draws back the pyjama sleeve to reveal the arm to be spattered with what look like a series of inoculations, he admits to be being puzzled by the nature of the markings which he reveals are on both the patients arms. Surprisingly, it is the R.A.F representative who makes the correct supposition that of Silverlight’s flesh being punctured by the fur of the thing he came in contact with.
As they look on Silverlight suddenly utters a few words! “The Old Man. Look on top of the Old Man…”
His audience wonder what he can mean. All the doctor can say is that he has been repeating that phrase over and over again.
The scene now switches to Stonehenge where things have developed! A frantic army officer is on his walkie-talkie relaying to those on the receiving end that the colonel must be informed that “The thing is on the move”.
Indeed it is! The great legs have `legged it` and the final large panel of this weeks story shows a startled farmer falling off his tractor (as you would) upon seeing half his farmhouse demolished as it catches a glancing blow from one of the great striding legs. The penultimate caption accompanying this panel boldly states “The giant legs were striding across the Hampshire countryside”.
The final caption at the bottom of the panel reads “NEXT WEEK: THE SECRET OF THE `OLD MAN! `”.
The third episode reintroduced the character of John Silverlight which made clear that he was directly involved in the plot. His fever after being touched by the creature’s fur gave another slant to the story; I wondered if he might turn into something rather like whatever it was!
The action sequences as the tanks blasted the huge arm with everything they had, but to no avail! Was superb! I was never one for too much wanton destruction in adventure strips that I read in those days, but these scenes really `grabbed` me.
The final panel of the legs setting off on what looked like quite a stroll must be one of the oddest images ever to grace the pages of a British comic.
EPISODE FOUR 23rd April 1966.
The fourth instalment begins with the sight of the great legs crashing through villages and towns as terrified people scatter for safety while buildings crumble about them under the overwhelming force of the legs as they plough onward.
By now the whole country is on alert after such events, especially the armed forces. Hence, the unleashing of a flight of heavily armed Electric Lightning jets.
The Lightning’s catch up with the legs over open countryside which means they can attack without fear of civilian casualties. In all seriousness the flight leader barks the order “Our orders are to attack these legs and utterly destroy them! “ This is surely the craziest order ever given to an attacking force.
The planes fire their missiles bombarding the great legs which are temporarily obscured by the formidable explosions and resulting smoke. Once the explosions and smoke fade the incredible sight of the unharmed legs, still trudging along greets the stunned pilots, “We might just as well have been using pea-shooters” exclaims the amazed flight leader.
Had they been flesh and blood legs, even at that size they would have been harmed, but as in the case of the arm, the legs are impervious to sheer physical force. In all respects the body parts are seemingly indestructible!
We then see the great arm scattering Lorries and other traffic as it clears a path across one of Scotlands `A` roads still clawing its way south.
A caption tells us Great Britain now lived through twenty four nightmare hours and that John Silverlight continued his delirium. The next panel shows Silverlight at the height of his fever suddenly sitting up in his hospital bed crying out “The Old Man, go to the top of the Old Man!”
Meanwhile in Whitehall a top level meeting between armed forces and security chiefs is summing up the situation. They realise that the arm is moving south and the legs northward in what looks like a deliberate manoeuvre to link up. It is estimated that the `merger` will take place somewhere in either Yorkshire or Westmorland. One officer still wonders what Silverlight can mean by his mutterings about the `Old Man`.
A senior army officer suddenly realises the meaning of the words “The Old Man, why didn’t I think of it before?”
An official car is commissioned for the officers and they head off to the Lake District. Some two hours later the Rolls arrives by the shore of Coniston water in Westmorland. Some of the officers are still puzzled so the senior man informs them that the `Old Man` is the mountain they are facing across the water. He relays that John Silverlight had been referring to the top of that mountain and they are going to take a look at it.
The Air Marshall arranges for a twin bladed large Chinook class of helicopter to carry the team over the mountain. However, as they are setting off the great legs are just about to enter the county of Westmorland. The final caption states “IN NEXT WEEK’S SMASH! THE HEADLESS GIANT!
An intriguing episode! It was clear by now that the arm and legs were `getting themselves together` so to speak, and that there was more where they came from! I couldn’t wait to find out what the secret of the `Old Man` mountain could be.
Both `segments` were seemingly indestructible as shells and missiles had barely any effect on them. How did they link with the Moon? I think I had guessed they were from there, but had little idea of how they actually got to Earth. It all made for a impatient seven day wait until next weeks `Smash` to learn more!
'EPISODE FIVE 30th April 1966. '
Episode five opens with the awesome aerial view of the Old Man peak in Westmorland. Embedded into the top of the mountain is yet another body part, this of an upper torso and a right arm that is joined to it.
The forces chiefs viewing from inside the Chinook are stunned by the scenario, “A body and an arm! It-it’s unbelievable!” exclaims one officer as if he had been having a normal day until then.
As they hover over the mountain top the great legs are now tackling the ever increasing incline of the mountain as they plough onwards. A crofter, his dog and sheep all scatter in terror as the huge legs stride ever upwards the mountain.
The men in the helicopter now see the beginnings of a link up of body parts. Sadly, the reader is denied what must be one very bizarre juggling act as legs and torso amalgamate, only a comment from someone in the `copter` relays to the readers what is transpiring. '
In what is one of the most representative panels portraying the sheer size of the assembled body parts the joined sections now tower upright, reaching some 250 to 300 feet or nearly 100 metres into the sky.
Presently, in Whitehall a top level meeting takes place to discuss the crisis. Present are all top security and forces chiefs. The chairman is a pipe smoking individual who is obviously meant to be Harold Wilson who was Prime Minister at the timescale of the story, early 1966.
The chairman is worried, “Gentlemen-the entire country is in the grip of panic! I want action this day!” The chiefs explain that the `menace` has been attacked heavily by tanks and from the air but is impervious to all such measures; “Nothing seems to stop it!” He is told.
One of the assembled recalls that John Silverlight had sensed the presence of the creature’s trunk on the Old Man. As this is stated we then see that Silverlight is sitting up in his hospital bed and is now seemingly over the worst of his fever. He is recalling to himself how he was grabbed by the giant hand and how the fur on it punctured his arm. He realises that “In some unearthly way I feel different!”
Two hours later a now seated Silverlight is being pressed by the chiefs of staff to try and recall more about the creature as he had `sensed` where it’s upper body had lain. Slowly he gathers his thoughts stating that he is now “Beginning to understand!”
“This thing is from the Moon!” He can sense that the events of the recent Luna-9 landing, and then transmission of signals is involved. “This creature transmitted itself to Earth in energy form on the electronic signals from Luna Nine!” They realise it is re-assembling itself.
While these debates are taking place the great trunk and legs are now marching northwards again while the other arm is scrabbling its way south. They finally meet up in Northumberland’s Cheviot Hills where the arm is collected and the creature now stands complete except for the head.
The final caption asks readers to look out for anything like this wandering about but not to be disappointed because, “THE THING FROM THE MOON will be here again in SMASH next week. COMPLETE WITH HEAD.
Quite! The fifth episode possessed some of the best images showing the sheer size of the rapidly assembling creature, a visual delight! The reader now finally found out how the body parts had arrived, though I didn’t really understand the explanation at the time.
The John Silverlight character was now obviously crucial to the story and was a `hero` of sorts even if he was no man of action! It was intriguing to wonder what the creatures head would be like, hopefully, next week would supply the answer.
EPISODE SIX 7th May 1966.
The penultimate episode began by showing the creature, still minus its head, in all its towering 300 foot or close to 100 metre glory. The behemoth now begins another march across the north England countryside ploughing through villages and towns regardless. One panel shows unfortunate villagers perishing beneath collapsing rubble as the colossus ploughs through one such village, the awesome size of the beast is highlighted by a church steeple which barely reaches its knees as it crashes through.
Soon, the twin bladed large helicopter is tracking the creature’s path. Aboard it John Silverlight accompanies the chiefs of staff. One of them comments how the creature is destroying aimlessly, but Silverlight cuts in “No, it seems to have some purpose. Notice how it heads all the time in a straight line…” They realise it does seem to have a purpose.
Eventually the huge figure reaches the coast and starts to plod seaward leaving great two metre deep holes in the beach. The watchers from the safety of their helicopter state the obvious, “It’s going to walk Into the Sea!”
The enormous figure slowly wades out into the North Sea and soon even its great bulk is swallowed up by the depths leaving only a few grey bubbles bobbing on the surface waters.
It is now three days later and back at Whitehall the prime ministerial figure is helming another top level meeting. He and the chiefs feel that the creature `has indeed` destroyed itself by walking into the sea and that the state of national security can now be relaxed. The only person to demur from this viewpoint is John Silverlight who becomes agitated at the readiness to jump to such assumptions.
Silverlight maintains that the creature has walked into the sea for one reason only, “It’s seeking its head on the bed of the sea!” he cries in anguish, but to no avail the others feel he is overwrought and his fears are unfounded.
Two weeks later we see a north-sea trawler bound for Grimsby with its haul of herring, suddenly! A great clawed hand reaches up from the sea grasping the trawler as if to use it for a hand-hold. The ship quickly begins to capsize under such an assault and there is only just time for the radio operator to tap out a hurried message mentioning a `monster` that has caused the foundering of the ship.
Yet again a hurried top level meeting is called at Whitehall with a worried prime minister asking the blindingly obvious “Could it be the headless thing that walked into the sea two weeks ago?”
The next panel shows a young boy high up on the sea cliffs on Northumberland beach staring at fear at a colossal figure emerging onto the coast. A caption states `And a Northumbrian lad was the first to set eyes on….The face of the Moon Monster! ` A close up of the now full creatures face is presented. The head is rather like a guardsman’s `Busby` the actual face is comparatively small. It is rather duck-like having two circular dark eyes set on a smooth oval plate that seems to have a long slit mouth with two large rimmed lips. The whole effect gives it a rather `idiot grin` feature to its expression. Most unusual is what looks to all purposes like a beak that juts out from the hair where a human chin would be, about three metres below the `lips`. A face only a mother could love perhaps!
The final caption states that next weeks final instalment will be a `SURPRISE ENDING` I could hardly wait to see how it all ended.
The sixth episode finally gave readers a look at the full creature! Its face was a bizarre effort indeed! It reminded me of a TV Times cartoon character called `Tivvy`. The creatures face didn’t look fierce though which was what was actually intended by the creators.
It is ironic to state this in such a story; but one part of episode six didn’t gel. This was where the P.M and others assumed the creature had killed itself by walking into the sea. This thing had obviously existed healthily on the Moon’s hostile surface and could exist even when its body parts were dissected! It even withstood all the armed services could throw at it regarding high explosives, yet a stroll into the sea was deemed fatal!?
Despite that inconsistency I was completely captivated by the story and I could hardly wait to find out how it would end, actually, captivated, hooked enthralled etc hardly covers my excitement at the time.
EPISODE SEVEN 14th May 1966.
The finale begins with a view from behind the towering creature as it stands facing the full Moon that lights up the last hours of night. The being looks up to the lunar globe in what seems like a mood of longing, it somehow recognises the heavenly body as home. A caption tells us that it longed for its fellow creatures (So! There were more of them!); and that it was Alone amid a bewildered terrified mankind which prayed for its destruction.
The scene returns to John Silverlight who is in the act of phoning a government experiment signal station near the north coast of England. The technician who answers him confirms that the station can indeed transmit radio signals to the Moon. The man concludes by telling Silverlight “The rest is up to you!”
Sometime later an open topped car pulls to a stop on a bleak North Country road. It has two occupants a driver and a standing passenger who is none other than John Silverlight. They have been scouring the area in search of the creature (hardly a `needle in a haystack` search really!)
In front of them about 400 metres ahead by the roadside, facing away from the car is the colossal figure of their `quarry`. “There it is! Stop the car here and I’ll get out!” Silverlight orders his companion. Heart thudding like a trip-hammer, Silverlight approaches the huge form that has sensed his presence and now faces toward him.
He realises that the mildest blow from one of its great hands would crush him but he has to take the chance as he reasons “When the creature’s fur punctured my arm it seemed to form some sort of bond between us. And I’ve got to put my faith in that!” Somehow, Silverlight suspected the creature wants someone or some being to befriend it and he hopes to be just that person.
The creature, recognising the affinity with the man before it, slowly follows Silverlight back to the car where he climbs into the standing position on the back seats. At a measured pace the car drives off with the great behemoth following behind in the manner of a great dog following its master, it was a most strange procession indeed.
Finally, in the growing light of dawn they reach the experimental station where army officers and technicians are waiting for them. Silverlight enquires if all is ready and is given an affirmative reply. He outlines his theory. “Now-if my theory is correct this thing `wants` to return home, to the Moon. It came here on a radio signal from the Moon – and now we’re giving it a chance to return to base in the same way.
The transmissions begin as the gigantic creature stands patiently somehow realising that it is being helped. “Nothing’s happening!” cries an officer as the minutes tick by, but he is contradicted by Silverlight who points to part of the creature that is now undergoing an awesome transformation. “Yes it is! Look! – It’s arm! It’s disappearing!”
Indeed, section by section the huge figure starts to fade as the substance of it; a substance that has withstood all conventional weaponry unleashed against it; is now being broken down into pure energy pulses by the transmitter aimed at the Moon. Those assembled below watch in awe as the process continues.
Soon, only the head remains and is at ground level prior to transmogrification. The eyes look straight at John Silverlight in a way which portrays that it fully comprehends the link that human and lunar beast now have between them. Even the head now breaks down into energy pulses until it finally had gone leaving its human audience spellbound. “Nothing, Just empty space” is the rather superfluous statement by one of the men.
Sometime later a sheepskin coat bedecked Silverlight walks homeward (His car had been crushed by the great arm earlier) he is a worried man even though the crisis is seemingly over. “Somehow I don’t feel quite the same, and I don’t think I’m ever going to be the same again!” are his troubled thoughts.
The final panel is every bit as haunting as the very first Moonscape scenario which outlined the theme of the story in the first episode. It is night and the full Moon illuminates the city skyline. Great tower blocks are shown in silhouette their lit windows giving a `domino` like effect to them. Another silhouetted figure is seen in the foreground, a human figure. It is reaching up in a position of either worship or supplication. Around the outstretched hands there glows a ball of nebulous energy. From the hands a discharge similar to a lightning strike bursts upwards towards the glowing sphere of the full Moon.
A caption informs us that at this next occurrence of the full Moon a strange change had come over John Silverlight. His blood tainted by the Moon creature’s fur John Silverlight’s fate was henceforth linked forever with each full Moon.
The final paragraph gives hint to what I, and I’m certain other readers, thought would be grounds for a sequel. It stated that one day the strange almost unbelievable story of SILVERLIGHT THE MOON MAN may be told, AND IF TOLD IT IS, IT WILL BE IN THE PAGES OF SMASH!
The final episode was possibly disappointing for blood N’ guts devotees having no cataclysmic orgy of violence as its conclusion. Me? I thought the ending superb! We learned that the creature wasn’t evil, more a frightened child-like figure. It hadn’t caused loss of life or the damage across swathes of the country on purpose; it was just trying to survive.
I did find it unusual that it was only scattered across the U.K as it is only a very small sector of the whole planet; the U.S.S.R or U.S.A would have been more logical! But, hey! Who needs logic in this story? It was a crazy coaster ride for readers who I’m sure didn’t worry too much about such things!
Even in 1966, the idea of a 300 foot plus `Yeti` type existing on the Moon (let alone a colony of them) was fantasy. Apart from radiation from the Sun, there is not exactly a feast of delicacies up there to live on! But, it didn’t matter; it was such a wacky story!
It did seem as though there might be a sequel, one where (in my wild guessing) John Silverlight begins to metamorphosis into a `Moon creature But! It never happened; that was it! What a truly haunting story it was, and it certainly haunted my memory for years after. It was not until the folks on `Comic U.K` site came through for me that I was able to revisit it after all these years!
Thanks are due to Lew Stringer for his help in tracing the story after so many years. More thanks to Steve Holland and Nigel P. (don’t know Nigel’s surname-sorry!) I should especially like to thank Irmantas Povilaika who kindly posted me photo copies of every episode from his home in Lithuania. Without these I could never have given such detailed breakdowns on each episode. (You can see this article along with samples of art from the strip at: www.crikeyuk.co.uk)
© Alan Smith. September 2009.