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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Comic Firsts: Reg Bunn

Reg Bunn is one of British comics' most popular creators; indeed, his popularity seems to have grown over the years, although I suspect that's down to one strip -- 'The Spider'. Reg had been working for the Amalgamated Press for fifteen years before that strip began in the pages of Lion, earning himself a reputation for reliably turning in pages week after week. Although he could produce highly detailed work, he was often asked to produce so many pages that backgrounds had to be reduced, earning Reg the nick-name "the cross-hatch king" amongst editors.

I've written in the past that Reg was discovered along with Geoff Campion when the Amalgamated Press ran a advertising campaign in the press looking for artists; it must have been an ongoing campaign because as far as I can tell Geoff's first work appeared a full year before Reg's.

Through the research we've been doing for The Thriller Index, which I'm pleased to say we're close to finishing bar a few annoying gaps, I've now had a chance to see what could be Reg's first ever strip. It appeared not in the UK but in Australia where the A.P. were publishing a number of monthly magazines shortly after the Second World War. These were undated but began publication in 1949; Reg's first strip, "Buck Jones, Outlaw!" appeared in issue 6 of Buck Jones.

Before long, Reg was drawing Buck's adventures for Comet and quickly established himself in that paper, adding Robin Hood to his weekly output and, for Sun, Clip McCord, which led onto work for Thriller Comics and other picture libraries. Eventually, Reg found himself with regular work in Lion and Tiger in the early 1960s and kept up a regular supply of weekly strips for these and other titles until his death in 1971.

Reg probably packed as much work into his 22 years as a comics' artist as others whose careers lasted twice as long. Above, you can see where that career started -- and if you've yet to stumble across the weird and wonderful The Spider, try King of Crooks, published by Titan back in November 2005.

(* 'Buck Jones, Outlaw!' and 'Buck Jones and the Wreckers of Gunsmoke Gulch' are © IPC Media. At the top of the column you can see the original cover for Titan's book that, due to the old American pulp character named the Spider being still in copyright, had to be retitled King of Crooks; cover by Garry Leach © Titan Books.)

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