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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Jeff Hawke: Overlord

The latest British comics reprint from Titan Books is a classic, although fans who have been around for a few years may have come across the stories before from a previous attempt by Titan to reprint Jeff Hawke, although you'd now be a bit long in the tooth like me. It's over twenty years since Titan put out Overlord (1986) and Council for the Defence (1987)... oh, boy! I remember picking them up as they came out like it was yesterday. And cursing Titan for not doing any more!

Hopefully this latest edition of Overlord, now in hardcover and containing four stories rather than three, will be the start of a good run that will see the rest of the Hawke strips back in print. Titan have already established their credentials with their James Bond and Modesty Blaise books and Hawke is a natural successor. The strip was popular across Europe (it has a huge fanbase in Italy) although never had the same success in the USA. Hopefully I'm not doing American readers an injustice but I suspect editors felt that Hawke would have been too cerebral for the Flash Gordon crowd. It was intelligent, witty and made full use of the possibilities of science fiction.

On occasions the strip embraced the fantastic; one story later it would present its audience with the most down to earth and mundane aliens. Their worlds were not necessarily the utopias that science fiction often gloried in; they were filled with the same political in-fighting and grumbling officialdom that the authors found themselves surrounded by. Elsewhere you would discover starships dwarfed by an alien object as magnificent and mysterious as a Rama or a Ringworld. And, Margaret Atwood take note, it has talking squid. In space. Yet it's still intelligently written science fiction. Go figure.

The artwork from Syd Jordan is superb and his use of the newspaper format made him one of the greats. (The first two stories, incidentally, were drawn with the assistance of Colin Andrew, another fine draftsman, seemingly forgotten these days.) With the writing chores being handled by Willie Patterson, the strip found a perfect partnership and anyone reading them now will find it hard to believe that they originally appeared in 1960. The strips on offer here are timeless.

Titan have already announced a second volume, The Ambassadors, which is due out in August, and hopefully there will be many more to come.

(* I've taken the opportunity to update the Titan section of the Comics Bibliography with a couple of additional pics of upcoming books, including the latest volumes of Dan Dare, James Bond and Modesty Blaise. Jeff Hawke © Express Newspapers Ltd. The cover at the top of the column is by Brian Bolland.)


  1. Hi there, I have a print pic, has a baby waiving a doll in the air. It says 6am--- Hullo Everybody. Dorothy Heather

  2. Also wondered it's value ?

  3. Also wondered it's value ?