Panel from a 1968 Sparky strip, during the character's return to the cover.

"Sparky" was a strip that appeared in the Comic of the same name in the sixties, drawn by Ron Spencer. It was the original cover feature, but was later dislodged by "The Moonsters".

The title character was a black boy who - let's face it - has to rank amongst the biggest blunders in British comics. Not only was he drawn with the jet-black skin and big red lips that were once commonplace ways of drawing black cartoon characters, he also spent all of his time wearing caricatured African tribal get-up (grass skirt, white face paint) despite the fact that he lived in contemporary Britain; he even dressed that way to school. The white characters were drawn in a quasi-realistic style of cartooning, making it just that little bit worse that Sparky himself resembled an inflatable minstrel.

On the plus side, Sparky's stereotyped nature did not extend beyond his appearance. He did not speak in the caricatured dialogue typical of earlier black characters (such as Sambo, Sue, and Jolly Golly in the forties) but in perfect English; in terms of personality, meanwhile, he was a mildly accident-prone everyman comparable to Korky the Cat, Biffo the Bear and much of the cast of Film Fun.

But still, considering that he made his debut in 1965, Sparky was very much an anachronism.

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