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Sunday, July 27, 2008

George Stokes - Wes Slade

Originally published 25 July 2007; see below for an update.

A while back I was asked about the 'Wes Slade' strip drawn by George Stokes for the Sunday Express. Unfortunately, I didn't even have the basic information of when it started and finished and a phonecall to the Express didn't help as, I was told, they didn't have any information on the strip.

As luck would have it, I was recently contacted by Germund von Wowern from Sweden, himself a comic book editor, who very generously sent me some copies of the strip. From these I've worked out that the strip must have started on Sunday, 29 January 1961. Not sure when it ended but the last strip Germund sent was for a story that ended on 13 February 1972, although the strip may have continued beyond that date.

The stories ran for around 13 to 16 weeks so the example at the top of the column was approximately the 7th story to appear. The last strip is numbered 567, implying that there were some 39 or so stories up to that point.

There is still very little known about the strip or its artist. George Stokes had worked for Mick Anglo in the early 1950s (prior to that I believe he had served with the Canadian Air Force) and then produced some strips for Fleetway. But the bulk of his career seems to have been dedicated to Wes Slade which he originally wrote and drew; later stories were written by Jim Edgar.

Below is a very rough schedule of stories based on the scattered examples I now have: if anyone can fill any gaps, please feel free to drop me a line.

Update: 27 July 2008: I've been able to add quite a bit of detail thanks to an e-mail received from Franco Giacomini who sent me a listing of Italian reprints. I ringraziamenti, Franco. [I hope that's "thanks, Franco".] I've retained the Italian titles as they may help i.d. further story titles in the future.
Further Update: 23 May 2011: My thanks to Torbjörn Svensson (see Comments) for much additional information about the end of the run. Torbjörn tells me that Jim Edgar is credited as the writer on the strip from the story 'Green Lebanon' in 1979 and that Harry Bishop took over as artist during the run of the story 'The Territory' in 1980.

1 The Living Dead ( )______________29 Jan 1961-?? [Lo Scefiffo Slade]
2 Fast Gun in Carrizal ( )______________________[Corruzione a Carrizal]
3 Ambush at Ochoa Springs (37-41)______________[Agguato a Ochoa Springs]
4 [Il padrone di Banjo Crossing] (42-54)
5 [La fine della pista] (55-68)
6 [I defradati] (69-80)
7 The Nesters (81-93)______________12 Aug-4 Nov 1962 [I coloni]
8 The Night Riders (94-103)_________11 Nov 1962-??
9 [La carovana della morte] (104-115)
10 [non individuata] (116-127)
11 [Una manciata di fango] (127-140)
12 Border Town (141-153)___________06 Oct 1963-?? [Citta' di frontiera]
13 [Il selvaggio] (154-167)
14 The Desperadoes (168-180)_______12 Apr 1964-??
15 [Il giocatore di Placerville] (181-192)
16 [non individuata] (193-206)
17 [La lancia di guerra] (207-220)
18 [El caballero] (221-236)
19 [non individuata] (237-250)
20 The California Road (251-264)_____21 Nov 1966-??
21 [Il rinnegato] (265-278)
22 [Penitenziario di stato] (279-292)
23 [non individuata] (293-306)
24 [Cacciatore di taglie] (307-319)
25 [Dodge City] (320-333)
26
27
28
29
30 A Day in Chandler's Fork (390-403)_15 Sep-15 Dec 1968
31 The Dud (404-419)_______________22 Dec 1968-6 Apr 1969
32
33
34
35 News from Shiloh (475-490)_______03 May-16 Aug 1970
36
37 Johnny Pueblo (507-520)_________13 Dec 1970-14 Mar 1971
38
39
40 The Maverick (552-567)__________24 Oct 1971-13 Feb 1972
___* No issue dated 26 December 1971.
XX
XX
XX
XX Flowers for Maggie (789-806)_____23 May 1976-19 Sep 1976
XX Eye for an Eye (807-823)_________26 Sep 1976-23 Jan 1977
XX Day of Reckoning (824-842)______30 Jan 1977-5 Jun 1977
XX The Loner (843-860)_____________12 Jun 1977-9 Oct 1977
XX Seed (861-877)__________________16 Oct 1977-12 Feb 1978
XX Ballad of Moses (878-895)________19 Feb 1978-18 Jun 1978
XX The Moonshiners (896-911)_______25 Jun 1978-8 Oct 1978
XX Little Brother Crow (912-927)______15 Oct 1978-28 Jan 1979
XX Viva Montanez! (928-943)_________4 Feb 1979-20 May 1979
XX Green Lebanon (944-961)_________27 May 1979-23 Sep 1979
XX Witch-Brood (962-978)____________30 Sep 1979-20 Jan 1980
XX The Territory (979-995)___________26 Jan 1980-18 May 1980
XX Day of Wrath (996-1012)__________25 May 1980-14 Sep 1980
XX The Grafter (1013-1032)___________21 Sep 1980-1 Feb 1981
XX A Debt of Honour (1033-1041)______8 Feb 1980-5 Apr 1981
XX The Wild One (1042-1052)_________12 Apr 1981-28 Jun 1981

Somewhere I've got a copy of the little Wes Slade reprint put out by Express Newspapers in 1979 (which makes me think that the strip probably carried on well beyond 1972). The book contained three stories and I'll fill in the details when the book surfaces from whatever nook or cranny it's hiding in. Update: David Simpson filled in the story titles for me back when this was originally posted. We can now see from Franco's list that it reprinted the first three stories and the third tale was indeed rather short.

(* Wes Slade © Express Newspapers)

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Steve

To save you diging out your copy of Wes Slade, I dug out mine.

It contains three stories, called "The Living Dead", "Fast Guns In Carrizal" and "Ambush At Ochoa Springs"; since the page counts are, respectively, 31, 21 and 8 pages, I assume that "Ambush..." is somewhat truncated. Any dates on the original strips were removed for this publication, so I've no idea when they first appeared.

The credits say Stokes designed the book, which I presume meant reformatting of the strips to suit the book's square format.

The only supporting material in this 72-page paperback is a back-cover blurb, which at least confirms that Wes Slade still ran in the Sunday Express at the time of publication in 1980.

Thanks for reminding me of this lovely little book; what a shame that Britain's newspaper strip westerns have been all but forgotten -- I'd love to see more Wes Slade reprints, plus collections of both Tony Weare's Matt Marriott (if that's the right spelling) and Harry Bishop's great Gun Law, based on the Gunsmoke radio/TV seris.

David Simpson

Steve said...

Hi David,

Thanks for that. You're a man after my own heart... I made exactly the same comment to someone else recently about wishing to see Wes Slade, Matt Martiott and Gun Law back in print; and there are a bunch of others, too, that I'd love to see on my shelves.

There would be a limited appeal to a lot of the material -- only someone seriously deluded would imagine a Wes Slade reprint book in the best-seller charts -- but I think there are one or two strips that could do reasonably well. Well enough for a, say, 200 or 300 copy limited edition book.

Regards,

Steve.

John said...

I still have some Wes Slade dailies that I used to clip out of the Express every day,my dad bought the paper for the football and cricket.Wes Slade was a lot more adult than my usual western comic reading. Add me to the list of subscibers.

Anonymous said...

Hello,

My son contacted me when he found your blogand the name and work of his grandfather there!
I am George Stokes ' daughter and would love to share in your passion for the Wes Slade strip, if i can help in anyway. My mother must know a lot of the answers to your questions, and even where the originals are!! I have lived abroad for sometime now and unfortunately when Dad died i lost track on a lot of his works, but it has always intruiged me as to what happend to the originals. I have tried to find out who legally is the owner of them, my dad or the Express ,?? but being abroad this is not easy, and im not sure how to go about my research; Its so nice to see that there are people out there who are still enjoying his work. he died very suddenly and prematurely at the age of 47 years. I look forward to hearing from you. Kind regards
Claire Stokes

Steve said...

Dear Claire,

Many thanks for getting in touch -- I would very much like to learn more about your father and his work.

If you or a member of your family could drop me a line directly (my email address is next to the picture above right) I will be pleased to hear from you. (Unfortunately, most comments come through as by 'anonymous' with no way for me to reply directly.)

I look forward to hearing from you.

John Freeman said...

Hi Steve

According to Daily Express archive lists, Wes Slade is described as "Based on true-life Western scenarios."

Chap O'Keefe said...

Steve,

What a satisfying moment it must be when contact is made by a relative of one of your "subjects" !

Keep up the good work. I hope this one results in much wider knowledge of one of the "lost" western strips.

From my biassed perspective it seems a great shame when publishers -- newspaper, book or magazine -- have no interest in the once hugely popular western genre. Not even the part it played in their own histories. Do they own the copyrights? Do they see no value in their property?

Of British publishers, only the independent Robert Hale Ltd, with its Black Horse Western line, has stood firm.

Steve said...

The Express seem to be pretty poor when it comes to their legacy of comic strips - perhaps because James Bond so dominates enquiries. When I asked them about any records for Wes Slade, they claimed not to have any. Rather more bizarrely, when I asked about Caroline Baker they denied all knowledge of it.

The Daily Mirror seems to be the only newspaper that encourages reprints of its strips, although on a limited basis. Maybe one day we'll see some more substantial and more widely available collections. Something I may pursue at some point... along with the other thousand and one ideas I have floating around in my head!

john adcock said...

It is very satisfying to hear from relatives of our "subjects." Recently I had an email from the great niece of cartoonist H.T. Webster who offered to mail copies of personal letters and a long-lost radio interview from his early days. Needless to say I'm very excited and will be haunting the mailbox until the information arrives.

Norman Boyd said...

...And let me wade in too Steve.

Wes Slade is another Frank Bellamy curiosity. I've uploaded scans and details - quoting the major authority on UK comics/strips/mystery papers etc etc - in a Note on the following page
http://www.frankbellamy.co.uk/unpub.htm#wesslade

Just click on the Note in the side panel

Steve said...

Norman,

Looks like the Express was trying out a possible daily strip judging by the gaps left at top right for the title. No idea when that would have been, but c. 1969/71, between working on Thunderbirds and Garth, would seem to be a best guess.

carly_stokes said...

Hi there!

I'm another relative of George Stokes - his grandaughter (Claire is my aunt). Unfortunatley I never had the pleasure of meeting grandad, but live in awe of his work and acheivements.

I have spent many an hour searching for any information or published items by my grandfather and have unfortunately not got very far. I attempted to get in touch with the Express also but didn't even get a reply. The trail of his work with Wes Slade and the strips he did seems to go cold.

I will continue with my search but for now it's just nice to know that his work is still appreciated.

Carly Stokes

Steve said...

Hi Carly,

Well, you can see from the comments that your grandfather's work is still appreciated. I included one of his stories in the recently published Against All Odds war collection if anyone wants to see an example of his non-Western work.

I've also found the Express unhelpful with any strip other than James Bond. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be any way of convincing them that there's interest in anything else.

carly_stokes said...

Hi Again Steve,
I have bought myself a copy of 'Against All Odds' and am just waiting to recieve in the post. Which one of the stories did my grandfather do?
Thanks for giving me the heads up on the book.

Cheers

Steve said...

Hi Carly,

Drop me a line at the address top right, under the picture (which I really ought to replace with something a bit more recent... and maybe of Brad Pitt rather than me).

The story included in Against All Odds is the third one in the book, entitled 'Foxhole Glory', about a journalist who gets into the thick of the action. It's a great little yarn, written by Donne Avenell.

Anonymous said...

Hi.
Wes Slade had been published several times, in differnt comic books, in Sweden. In titles like Cowboy and Western.
It's a nice comic. Stoke ruled.

Torbjörn said...

Here is some index info on the end of the run. Jim Edgar credited as writer from 'Green Lebanon'. Harry Bishop continued Stokes work in the episode 'The Territory'.
Hope it can be of some help.
I have a lot of the stories published in Sweden, but I'm having trouble identifying them.

Start date End date Title Script Artist Strip numbers # weeks
1976-05-23 1976-09-19 Flowers for Maggie GSTO 0789-0806 18
1976-09-26 1977-01-23 Eye for an Eye GSTO 0807-0823 18
1977-01-30 1977-06-05 Day of Reckoning GSTO 0824-0842 19
1977-06-12 1977-10-09 The Loner GSTO 0843-0860 18
1977-10-16 1978-02-12 Seed GSTO 0861-0877 18
1978-02-19 1978-06-18 Ballad of Moses Rock GSTO 0878-0895 18
1978-06-25 1978-10-08 The Moonshiners GSTO 0896-0911 16
1978-10-15 1979-01-28 Little Brother Crow GSTO 0912-0927 16
1979-02-04 1979-05-20 Viva Montanez! GSTO 0928-0943 16
1979-05-27 1979-09-23 Green Lebanon JE GSTO 0944-0961 18
1979-09-30 1980-01-20 Witch-Brood JE GSTO 0962-0978 17
1980-01-27 1980-05-18 The Territory JE GSTO, HBIS 0979-0995 17
1980-05-25 1980-09-14 Day of Wrath JE HBIS 0996-1012 17
1980-09-21 1981-02-01 The Grafter JE HBIS 1013-1032 20
1981-02-08 1981-04-05 A Debt of Honour JE HBIS 1033-1041 9
1981-04-12 1981-06-28 The Wild One JE HBIS 1042-1052 12

Torbjörn Svensson

avudaiappan sankaran said...

Just an additional info..
Wes slade stories have come in Tamil, a language spoken by people in southern part of India in muthu comics. I dont know the original english issues that were translated. Please contact the editor of the comics for more info.. his blog is http://lion-muthucomics.blogspot.in/