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Friday, March 23, 2007

Comic Clippings - 23 March 2007

There hasn't been a huge amount going on. I've been trying to catch up on some Look and Learn work and haven't had much time for anything else. The Italian fanzine Fumetto will be running a feature on Franco Caprioli and his work in the UK which I've been helping out with which meant I had to borrow some copies of Lion from a friend. I was never a big fan of Lion but I found myself reading some of the stories and thinking that 'Trelawny of the Guards' is something of a lost classic. It's a war story but not the kind of 'Aaaieee', 'Banzai' yarn that usually gets trotted out when people think of British war comics. Trelawny is a Sergeant with the Grenadier Guards and, unlike many gung-ho British war heroes, he admits to being scared and has to make tough life-or-death decisions about the troops under his command. Anyone reading 'Charley's War' and thinking it was the first time war had been treated realistically should take a look at 'Trelawny of the Guards'. I've only read a couple of episodes but these early episodes don't conform to the cliched view of war comics at all.

One of the reasons for dipping into 'Trelawny' was that I've been on a war footing for quite a few months; as you'll know, I've been involved in choosing stories for two upcoming collections for Carlton, details of which will be announced shortly. But here's a sneak peak at the covers:

The books are due for release on 3 September. They haven't turned up on Amazon yet but I'll be keeping my eyes open and I'll let you know when you can get your pre-orders in.

The other war book I've been working on is the first volume of a new series of indexes. This one will cover all the war libraries from Fleetway (War, Battle, Air Ace, War at Sea and Giant) with their attendant holiday specials. This has been co-compiled with David Roach (who should need no introduction) and we're finishing up the proofs at the moment. The next in the series will update and vastly improve three of the indexes I co-compiled with David Ashford: Thriller Comics, Cowboy Comics and Super Detective Library. Then it's another volume with David Roach covering all the other libraries, from Action and Top Secret to all the romance and schoolgirl libraries. Since only a handful of these have ever been indexed before we're still at the coal face, chipping away at the lists but some of the information that we're coming up with is startling and I have to believe David when he says that some of the romance libraries were amongst the most consistently well-drawn comics ever published in the UK. I'm hoping that anyone buying the first two volumes will want to complete the set... and I can promise you a few surprises amongst the artists who worked on these things.

Back to Trelawny for a few seconds. The above page (© IPC Media, by the by) is by Victor de la Fuente who was the strip's main artist and another name in British comics that rarely gets a mention. He was well known in his native Spain as the artist of 'Haxtur' and in the 1970s and 1980s his work found a wider audience in the pages of Pilote, l'Echo des Savanes and A Suivre. The few bits of his European artwork I've seen are fantastic. In the UK his work appeared mostly in War Picture Library and Battle Picture Library where it has been pretty effectively buried for too many years.

Maybe I should start a campaign to get Garth Ennis to write new Trelawny stories -- not a bad idea in itself -- and then Titan will have an excuse to reprint some of the originals as a companion to their Charley's War series. (I'm determined to get the best of British comics back in print even if I have to do it one strip at a time. And if I write the introductions I get free copies! Cunning, eh?)
  • Paul Rainey is reading a thousand issues of 2000AD from issue 1 on. You can follow his progress on his 2000AD Prog Slog blog.

4 comments:

Lew Stringer said...

Excellent news about the library collections Steve! (I've added a plug for them and your blog over on my blog.)

I was never a fan of war comics so I missed the superb artwork the War & Battle libraries had on offer. Therefore I'll be sure to buy these two compilations.

Good luck with all your projects!

Best,
Lew

Steve said...

If folks will indulge me, a bit of mutual back-slapping...

Lew's blog (http://lewstringer.blogspot.com/) is a superb site for reminiscences about old British comics which you'll thoroughly enjoy dipping into. And Lew is, of course, the creator of Brickman, recently spied in Richard Starkings' Elephantman comic book, as well as a string (no pun intended) of now classic characters, from Combat Colin to Tom Thug via Pete and his Pimple.

gantry said...

Hello! Congratulations for this comment about VĂ­ctor de la Fuente.
I´m one of the biggest fans of this incredible artist.
If you want to see many many images of his comics, including stories for Warren publishing, Haxtur, Amargo, Mathai-Dor, Historie de France, Sargeant Trelawny, etc...please, visit the blog I have in his honour: victordelafuente@blogspot.com

Thanks for this blog!

jmrrva said...

Hi Steve, Victor and his friend Ramon also made the interior art of some Commando comics.