Gums – Monster Fun’s Toothless Shark

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In 1976, Jaws was all the rage with kids, and British comic Monster Fun – published by IPC – was quick to cash in on the trend. At the beginning of February 1976, the 35th issue of the comic – which specialised in humour strips with a mild horror flavour – debuted a new strip on the front cover, usurping the previous main strip Kid Kong. Gums was the story of a Great White shark off the coast of Australia that is terrorising locals – until, that it, his false teeth get stuck in a surfboard and are seized by surfer dude Bluey. Over the run of the strip, Gums and Bluey would battle for ownership of the teeth, with Gums retrieving his ‘choppers’ one week and Bluey snatching them back the next. The comedy came from the wacky schemes both used to secure the teeth. Given that it was a one-joke strip, Gums was surprisingly entertaining and unrepetitive, and it’s toothless shark developed a real character that readers loved.

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Intially illustrated by Bob Nixon (and later, Alf Saporito) and written by Roy Davies, Gums proved immediately popular, remaining the cover strip for the rest of the comic’s run. It ultimately outlived both Jaws mania and Monster Fun, transferring to Buster when MF was cancelled with issue 73, and eventually ran until May 1984.

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