The Herbs and The Adventures of Parsley
On this page ..... The Herbs appeared in 3 pre-school UK comics ... "Pippin" ... "Playland" ... and ... "Helter Skelter"
The Herbs .... in Pippin
The Herbs first appeared in Pippin in Issue No.107 for the week ending 5th October,1968 - a colour,double page introductory strip - here
The first Herbs cover (pictured above) was for Issue No.185 for the week ending 4th April, 1970.
The previous 184 issues had all featured the Pogles on the cover,so this was actually quite a noteworthy event in the publication's history.And no coincidence that the tv debut of the Adventures of Parsley was that very same day.
But,just like the 184 previous issues,2 traditions still remained:-
1) Every front cover was the start of a story that continued on the back page.(click on cover above to see both)
2) Every front cover always had several items hidden in the artwork for you to find.
" Can you find a bottle,a glass and a bell hidden in this picture ? " as it says at the bottom of the green text box above.
The last Herbs strip appeared in issue #459,dated 5th July,1975.
A victim of the space squeeze resulting from the merger of Pippin with Playland the following week.
The Herbs .... in Playland
Whilst The Herbs didn't start appearing in Pippin until October,1968,they'd actually been
appearing in Playland since its very 1st issue on Monday 8th January,1968
Which is particularly interesting because it was a full month before the 1st episode hit the screens on February 13th.
A great bit of pre-publicity,and quite a coup when none of the readers knew a thing about them of course.
It ran continuously until issue #38 dated 28th September,1968 before starting it's run in Pippin the following week.
And nothing to do with any dip in popularity.
Because when you've got 2 publications to fill,sequels can be handy things.Which is why there were 3 seperate strips for Camberwick Green,Trumpton and Chigley for example.
And whilst continuing to appear in Pippin as The Herbs,a new strip called "The Adventures of Parsley the Lion" began in issue #86 of Playland on August 30th,1969 - here
The corresponding tv show wasn't due to air until April 1970 of course.So,once again,Polystyle were generating some pre-screen interest only this time with a whopping 7 month lead-in time.And presumably they were still paying Michael Bond for the privilege,even though it should probably have been the other way round.
Exactly how long the love-in lasted is another matter.Because I've yet to determine when the last strip appeared .... anyone ?
The Changing Faces of Parsley
Pictured below are some examples of how different artists interpreted the characters over the years.
They're all taken from Playland.With a nice spread of 1969,1971 and 1973.
Click on each pic and you can see the whole strip.
Issue No. 89 week ending 20th Sept.1969 No.195 week ending 2nd Oct.1971 No. 294 week ending 25th Aug.1973
Left, a pic of issue #185 -notable for reasons discussed below.
Below, an ad from Playland 17th July,1971.
Mutual plugging and comic strip crossovers showed just how close Pippin & Playland were (also more on that below)
The times,they were indeed a-changin',as Parsley's mane goes from a groovy tight afro,through to a sort of Jesus Christ Superstar wavey perm.
The strips also serve as a reminder that both publications were a mix of colour and b & w to keep costs down.
So,if we presume they reserved the colour for the most popular shows at any one particular time .... then Parsley's star was clearly beginning to wane by 1973 -even though both series were still being repeated.
But that's just a presumption. And I've also yet to discover if it ever re-appeared in colour again after that .
Pippin comic - overview
Monday 19th September,1966 (wk. ending 24th) .... "No.1 of the new coloured picture weekly for the very young viewer."
Predominantly a tv tie-in,it made full use of all the particular BBC "Watch With Mother" favourites of the period.
At around 16 pages long,it was a mix of colour and black & white comic strips.Plus a puzzle page,a reader's postbag,where you could also get a photo of yourself printed,and a bible story.
Who or what was Pippin
He was the young elfin-like central character from "The Pogles".
So it's no surprise the series graced every front & back cover for the first 184 issues -most of them featuring Pippin & his furry sidekick Tog.
But I've chosen one with the whole Pogles family -here- (xmas '69).And if you'd like to know more,their Wiki entry is here
Playland comic - overview
Pippin was so successful that the publishers,Polystyle Publications,launched "Playland" in January 1968.
Officially subtitled "companion paper to Pippin" it was a simple 'double your money' cash-in as it had the same basic format, price,number of pages and monday publication date .... just different comic strips.
So,apart from overkill,it was hard to see how it could possibly fail .... and it didn't !
Pippin in Playland
Both titles ran very successfully in tandem until 1975 when the almost inevitable happened and they finally merged to form "Pippin in Playland".
With Pippin being absorbed into Playland with the 12th July issue (#460)
Buttons - Pippin successor
Neither The Herbs nor the sequel appeared in this comic. But it's here just to continue the Pippin timeline .....
This was another clone which started in 1981-a generally inauspicious time for UK comic launches in a declining market.
But it followed exactly the same format as the other 2 and did so well that it eventually absorbed Pippin in Oct.1986.
The last Pippin issue being no.1,044, dated Sept.26th,1986.With the Pippin name deferring to Buttons and disappearing.
Buttons then continued in the same style as it had always been upto and including issue no.433,dated 13th Jan.1990.
At which point falling circulation finally necessitated a major re-launch.
And the following week it emerged in a much larger, newspaper style format with the tag line of "the 2 to 5 tabloid".
Still retaining all the usual comic strips and interactive bits,but also now actively seeking more involvement from the parents.
A slightly odd way to go,even without the benefit of hindsight to be honest.
And so it proved.Lasting little more than a month before ceasing publication completely [ Feb.1990.]
But,overall,still a very respectable run though.Especially when you consider that the once mighty UK mass market comic industry was dying on its feet during the 80's.And had effectively ceased to exist by the time it folded.
Helter Skelter comic - overview
The Herbs last hurrah in the form of a printed comic came with the publication of "Helter Skelter"
But,despite excellent production values,it barely got started before folding.
Although it still gets its own on-site page here
Pippin & Playland - details of the Herbal involvement ...
And to finish ....
The rather fetching image of a guitar-wielding Parsley is just an excuse to mention the series presence in the Pippin and Playland annuals.
As it's lifted from the cover of the Pippin one published in 1972.
And Herbal content featured in Pippin Annuals from 1971 to 1976
And in Playland Annuals from 1969 to 1975
My thanks to Tony Clark for his help with this page.