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Saturday, September 16, 2006

Jim Edgar

I received an enquiry from a fan of the old 'Matt Marriott' newspaper strip asking for information on the author Jim Edgar. After a lot of digging around I had to give up and admit defeat: I know almost nothing about Jim Edgar.

He seems to have started out as a short story writer and author of radio plays before turning to writing newspaper strips on the advice of Peter O'Donnell. I've only managed to trace the titles of two radio plays: Murder Case (1953) and The Fielding Case (1956), both broadcast on the BBC Home Service's Saturday Night Theatre.

Jim Edgar spent 22 years as the author of 'Matt Marriott' for the London Evening News (1955-77), drawn by the incomparable Tony Weare. He also wrote other Westerns including 'Wes Slade' for the Sunday Express drawn by George Stokes. Apparently Stokes wrote the early episodes of 'Wes Slade' himself before handing over to Edgar - who was credited from 1979 - and the strip was taken over by Harry Bishop in 1980-81. Harry Bishop was also the writer and artist of 'Gun Law' which ran in the Daily Express from 1960. Presumably Jim Edgar took over the writing at some point... but I've no idea when.

Gun Law (c) Express Newspapers.

We're on firmer ground with Garth from the Daily Mirror as this has been well covered. Jim Edgar took over writing the strip from Peter O'Donnell in April 1966 and was the regular writer until September 1985, then wrote irregularly between 1985 and 1992.

Somewhere along the line I've picked up the information that Edgar also wrote 'Buck Ryan' for Jack Monk and the Daily Mirror and 'Carol Day' for David Wright and the Daily Mail. No idea where this came from.

Edgar had a serial in Tiger, 'Rusty Flynn -- Rodeo Roughrider', which ran between December 1956 and April 1957. He was a fairly prolific scriptwriter for the war libraries between 1962 and 1965, and seems to have stopped writing them around the time he took over writing Garth.

And that's the sum total of all I know. No biographical details and a pretty sketchy bibliography. Can anyone help with some details... for instance, when did 'Wes Slade' start? Has anyone got a list of stories for Wes... or Matt Marriott... or Gun Law... or Carol Day... or Buck Ryan... and when they appeared?

Any help at all would be welcome.


It seems likely that Jim Edgar died in 2001, aged 82. See the comments below for further details.


Norman said...

Re Jim Edgar:
I can tell you an anecdotal fact that Frank & Nancy Bellamy used to meet up with Jim and his wife as both families lived in Kettering.
One time Frank told Edgar he had far too many actions occurring in one daily Garth strip for him to be able to illustrate!!

Steve said...

Whilst this isn't confirmed to be 'our' Jim Edgar, I've found a death record for one James Edgar of Kettering, Northamptonshire, who died in late 2001, aged 82.

Hopefully I will be able to confirm this information one way or the other.

Thanks for the clue, Norman. Much appreciated.

Isabelinho said...

Well, Steve, this was six (good god!) years ago! Any new data surfaced since then?

Steve said...

That's still all the information I have on Edgar... nobody has come forward to add anything.

Isabelinho said...

No family survived him? Nothing? That's odd, right?

Steve said...

Not odd at all. The Internet's a big place and Bear Alley is a tiny little alleyway.

Paddy Brown said...

If the James Edgar who died in Kettering in November 2001 is the right one, then according to his death record on Genes Reunited he was born on 11 October 1919. I've found a James G. Edgar born in the last quarter of 1919 in Carlisle, Cumberland, whose mother's maiden name was Bell.

Steve said...

Hi Paddy,

I spotted the same thing and whilst it's likely to be the correct birth, the fact that he had a middle name on his birth record and no middle name on his death record makes me wonder if it's the same guy. If he dropped his middle name, he may equally be the James Alexander Edgar born in Belfast in that same quarter.

Anonymous said...

I can tell you his grand daughter is a teacher living in Telford Shropshire. I met him in the mid 80's and I can confirm he was a fascinating old guy. If you want to know any more let me know.

Steve said...

Oh, yes, I definitely want to know more.

Bob Lorenzo said...

Jim Edgar was born Thomas Eric Edgar on 29th August 1908 in Newton Le Willows.He lived in Kettering for most of his life but after the death of his wife Jessie in 1994 he went to live in a residential home in Sleights,Whitby where he died on
4th July 1998.
I am in possession of quite a lot of prints etc from Wes Slade,Gun Law,Garth and The Boss(a football script that Jim wrote for the Daily Express.I will email details of these to Steve.
Jim was a wonderful man who must have been one of this country's most knowledgeable people on the subject of American western history. Bob Lorenzo

Isabelinho said...

In case that you didn't guess by now I'm the "Matt Marriott" fan that Steve refers to above. I never thanked Steve for this post, so, thanks Steve, Norman, Paddy and Bob! Comics scriptwriters have been forgotten long enough already. Jim was a genius, period! It's about time that people recognize his talent, don't you all think so too?

Steve said...

Although there's no sign of any reprints becoming available, we are at least chipping away at the mystery of his career thanks to people like Bob coming along. Maybe one day we'll see a proper reprint of Wes Slade or Gun Law.

Isabelinho said...

Or "Matt Marriott" :)

Isabelinho said...

By the way, a friend of mine ( would love to publish Matt Marriott, but he can't find the copyright's owner or owners. He contacted the Evening Standard, but apparently they don't even have any records mentioning it. Anyone can lead me in the right direction? Many thanks in advance!

Isabelinho said...

Here's Manuel's link.

Insider said...

Steve: Just saw this piece on Jim Edgar. Jim was the writer of the tough Manhunt strip that ran from the first issue of TopSpot. Brian Woodford