Trea­sury of Bri­tain

The ed­i­tors dis­cuss what’s next.

Comic Heroes - - Contents -

From griz­zled New York cop OneEyed Jack to mal­leable mimic Faceache, the in­au­gu­ral of­fer­ings from Re­bel­lion’s new Trea­sury of Bri­tish Comics im­print couldn’t be more var­ied. The first clas­sic sto­ries to see the light of day fol­low­ing the

2000AD pub­lisher’s pur­chas­ing of the Fleet­way and IPC Youth Group’s plen­ti­ful archive of 1970s and 1980s comics, they are drawn from ti­tles such as Buster, Misty, Valiant and Scream!

“There were sev­eral rea­sons for choos­ing the first sto­ries to re­print,” says ed­i­tor Keith Richard­son. “Some work was se­lected be­cause I was al­ready fa­mil­iar with it, and some ma­te­rial was picked be­cause of the cre­ators in­volved. There were a few strips that I had never read be­fore and was ab­so­lutely de­lighted to find, and The Sen­tinels from Misty falls into that cat­e­gory.”

As one of the cru­cial an­tecedents of Judge Dredd, there was prob­a­bly no bet­ter place to launch the Trea­sury of Bri­tish Comics than June’s pub­li­ca­tion of One-Eyed Jack. Writ­ten by Old Stoney Face co-cre­ator John Wag­ner and drawn by John Cooper, the Dirty Harry- in­spired po­lice de­tec­tive Jack McBain’s in­creas­ingly vi­o­lent ex­ploits first ap­peared in Valiant in 1975. With McBain be­com­ing a US mil­i­tary in­tel­li­gence op­er­a­tive, they con­tin­ued fol­low­ing the merger with Bat­tle Pic­ture Weekly in 1976, although those episodes are be­ing saved for a later edi­tion. “Jack was fa­mil­iar ter­ri­tory for us, be­ing the cus­to­di­ans of Judge Dredd,” says Richard­son. “It’s a qual­ity strip as well, but you wouldn’t ex­pect any­thing less from John Wag­ner.”

Ar­riv­ing just in time for this month’s Spi­der-Man: Home­com­ing, The Leop­ard From Lime Street has been hailed as the UK’s an­swer to Marvel’s web-spin­ner, and is cer­tainly one of the first Bri­tish su­per­heroes. One of hu­mour-cen­tred weekly Buster’s few se­ri­ous-minded sto­ries, it was writ­ten by Tom Tully and il­lus­trated by Mike Western and Eric Brad­bury. Turn­ing to crime-fight­ing af­ter be­ing bit­ten by a ra­dioac­tive leop­ard, teenager Billy Farmer’s numer­ous cat-like abil­i­ties in­cluded su­per-speed and strength as well as a pen­chant for climb­ing trees. Like Pe­ter Parker, he even takes pho­tos of him­self in ac­tion, which he then sells to the lo­cal news­pa­per.

“I would de­scribe Spi­der-Man as the Amer­i­can Leop­ard From Lime Street!” laughs Richard­son. “I loved this strip grow­ing up, although it was a real od­dity in Buster, as the rest of the comic was pop­u­lated with funny strips. Eric Brad­bury and Mike Western’s art is phe­nom­e­nal, and re­ally eye-wa­ter­ing. The mar­ket­place now is dom­i­nated by the su­per­hero genre, so it’s good to have a lit­tle skin in that game. Also, since an­nounc­ing our ac­qui­si­tion of the Eg­mont archive, it has prob­a­bly been our most re­quested strip to re­print. The fact that it is com­ing out around the same time as the new Spidey movie was pure serendip­ity.”

Once again orig­i­nat­ing from Buster, Sep­tem­ber’s Mar­ney the Fox is not as well known, and ac­cord­ing to Richard­son, the Scott Goodall-writ­ten strip could be viewed as one of Fleet­way’s for­got­ten gems, if only for John Stokes’ im­pres­sive art. “Mar­ney the Fox is a sim­ple, yet beau­ti­ful story, sim­i­lar to Water­ship Down and Tarka The Ot­ter,” he says. “The story is about a young fox cub called Mar­ney, who has

The Leop­ard from Lime Street has been hailed as the uk’s an­swer to Marvel’s web-spin­ner

to sur­vive in a world where he has been sep­a­rated from his mother and sib­lings. The big draw here is John Stokes’ art­work, and the in­sane amount of de­tail in ev­ery panel is a joy to look at. In my opin­ion, it is his best work and some of the best art­work to ever ap­pear in Bri­tish comics. It de­serves to be seen by more peo­ple, and I hope it does well.”

Fol­low­ing on from last year’s Mon­ster and Moon­child/Four Faces of Eve vol­umes from Scream! and Misty re­spec­tively, Re­bel­lion will again be root­ing through Fleet­way’s hor­ror comics vault in the au­tumn. First up in Oc­to­ber from Scream!, The Drac­ula File by Gerry Fin­ley-Day and Eric Brad­bury, with ad­di­tional ma­te­rial by Death’s Head cre­ators Si­mon Fur­man and Ge­off Se­nior (although not to­gether), chronicles the blood­suck­ing count’s jour­ney through 1980s Bri­tain. Then in Novem­ber, Misty Vol­ume 2 will show­case Mal­colm Shaw and Mario Ca­paldi’s The Sen­tinels, which partly takes place in a dystopian Bri­tain where the Nazis won the Sec­ond World War, and End of the Line, which was most prob­a­bly also writ­ten by Shaw and drawn by John Richard­son, and was a story that in­volved time travel on the Lon­don Un­der­ground.

“The Mon­ster and Misty col­lec­tions were well re­ceived last year, but that isn’t the pri­mary rea­son why we’ve de­cided to re­lease The Drac­ula File and The Sen­tinels/End of the Line,” rea­sons Richard­son. “Scream! was my favourite comic grow­ing up, so col­lec­tions from that most un­holy of tomes are never far from my mind. And Bram Stoker’s great novel Drac­ula is 120 years young this year, which is a nice an­niver­sary to hang this re­lease on. As for The Sen­tinels, what a story! Misty in gen­eral is a ti­tle that I was never fa­mil­iar with, but have grown to love since the ac­qui­si­tion, so ex­pect even more Misty in the fu­ture.”

Round­ing out the year in De­cem­ber is Ken Reid’s Faceache, which cen­tres around in­cor­ri­gi­ble school­boy Ricky Rub­ber­neck, who boasts a ‘bend­able bonce’ that he can stretch to re­sem­ble other peo­ple. The cre­ator of Roger the Dodger over at The Beano, Reid ranks up there with Min­nie the Minx/The Bash Street Kids’ Leo Bax­en­dale, and Faceache – which de­buted in Jet in 1971 be­fore mov­ing to Buster – is per­haps the pin­na­cle of his Fleet­way work. “For me, Ken Reid is the best car­toon­ist hands down,” says Richard­son. “So in­ven­tive and so hu­mor­ous, Ken is still un­sur­passed in his field. I was shocked that there aren’t al­ready vol­umes of his work al­ready col­lected up and sell­ing up and down the coun­try.”

De­spite their im­mense pop­u­lar­ity and ob­vi­ous links to 2000AD, The Trea­sury of Bri­tish Comics doesn’t in­clude any sto­ries from Bat­tle Pic­ture Li­brary or Ac­tion, for the time be­ing at least. “We haven’t re­leased any Bat­tle/ Ac­tion ma­te­rial yet, but that is mainly be­cause Ti­tan still had a li­cence for that,” says Richard­son. “But fans of both ti­tles will be ex­cited by our 2018 sched­ule though!”

the best art­work to ever ap­pear in Bri­tish comics

Above: Fans of Marvel’s Spi­der-Man are cer­tainly go­ing to want to check out the Leop­ard From

Lime Street clas­sic is the trea­sury... we’d choose leop­ard abil­i­ties over a spi­der’s any day

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