Treasury of Britain
The editors discuss what’s next.
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