SIMPLE SPYMAN

Comic
Speech Bubbles
Drawn by Bill Ritchie

87 appearances (over 87 pages) from issue no. 1 (18/01/75) to no. 87 (11/09/76).
All were printed in black and white.

What does it say on the tin (or in that rhyming couplet at the top of the first page)?
“Meet the guy who’s the world’s worst spy!”

The nearest Simple Spyman gets to James Bond is to “play the part of a spy in the new James Blond film “ (issue no. 16). “A nice easy job”, his boss had assured him. “Sounds easy!” SS replies, and goes to read the script at the film studios. The storyline involves him leaping from one tall building to another, hanging from a helicopter, dropped into a shark-infested river, crossing a minefield, and zapped by a laser gun. SS does a runner and returns to Boss: “Easy job, did you say? That film made my usual missions look like kids’ stuff”.

In fairness, up to then (and up to issue no. 32) SS’s espionage was usually of the industrial kind. His ‘missions’ involved the likes of finding out how ‘Crunch’ choc bars (issue no. 2), Madam Toosuds wax dummies (15), ‘Fairy Sleet’ (6) and ‘Sudso’ (10) washing powders are made, spying on a magician (8), a French onion seller (9), and the Glue Factory Brass Band (13), and being asked by United to spy on Rovers (4, and again in 23).

Gradually the stories become more and more conventionally spy oriented as he hides behind pot plants, eats his instructions, and hunts for his enemies’ ‘secret papers’. In obvious takes on the Bond films, SS is presented with spy gadgets such as a jet pack (in issue no. 43), a special hat (58), boots (74), skates (81), pen (82), and case (84), and specially adapted cars.

The first car (in issue no. 46) has added periscope, ’probing’ headlights, camouflage, and an ejector seat. At the beginning of the story in issue no. 66 Boss tells SS he will need transport, and rings the garage. SS imagines himself driving a “super-speed spy car”, jumping ramps and “crashing through international ‘halt’ barriers!” but when he gets there the reality is a bit different – he is handed a bicycle. Which is just as well as… in issue no. 76 Boss shows SS a car he has had built for him. As he demonstrates that it can send out a thick smoke screen, that it has fold-away wings which turn the car into an aeroplane, and that it is bullet proof, SS constantly tries to interrupt.
“Well Spyman”, asks Boss “isn’t this the best spy car you’ve ever seen?”
“Er, yes, Boss!” replies SS, “There’s only one thing wrong!…I’ve been trying to tell you – I can’t drive!”

Simple Spyman’s only foreign mission?
Spying on the Spring fashions in Paris (issue no. 12).

Simple Spyman’s most bizarre missions?
Being sent to Scotland to see if the Loch Ness monster exists (issue no. 37) and
being sent to a castle to see if it’s haunted (issue no. 40).

Simple Spyman’s most ignominious mission?
Failing to sneak a book back into the library to avoid paying a fine (issue no. 55).

Mini Spy, a junior version of SS, appeared in issue nos. 19, 21, 25, 35, 36, 47, 59, 72, and 77.

Young Foo made an appearance in issue no 27.