View Full Version : Lew Stringer and classic British comics

2009-03-02, 07:57 PM

Cliffy (and of course anyone else who may be interested) -- you seen this?

2009-03-02, 09:10 PM
Nice! I've read a lot of his articles and other writings on Fleetway stuff, and argued with him about Jack Kirby and/or Silver Age Marvel at one point in the pages of Avengers United. Even if his involvement in the 2000AD Action Special means he's technically on the murder list, but I'd probably get Millar and the prick behind the Mytek strip first. And then probably Millar again, and then Millar a bit more. And then make ****ing sure Millar's dead. So nice to have a blog from a British comic book writer who could find Britain on a map, isn't it?

inflatable dalek
2009-03-02, 09:16 PM
Niffty, has Alan Moore ever had a sensible hair cut?

2009-03-02, 09:36 PM
So nice to have a blog from a British comic book writer who could find Britain on a map, isn't it?
Yeah... no particular love for most of it myself (got there via 'Girls with Slingshots') but I'm gradually building a list of links to blogs I intend to read when time presents itself. It's a bit of history I feel I should know something about.

2009-03-02, 09:55 PM
It's a bit of history I feel I should know something about.

I can bung you the various Fleetway scans I have, but to be honest a browse of International Hero is still the best prep I can recommend. The British comic industry of the 1960s/70s is quite fascinating, just because it's astonishing it actually worked - stories printed at two pages a week taking six months an arc, in black and white and sold in a book with 8-10 other serials. And when Marvel first imported 22-page books on a single story, IPC kicked the shit out of them on the grounds that the Marvel books didn't have war stories...

2009-03-02, 10:21 PM
it's astonishing it actually worked - stories printed at two pages a week taking six months an arc,
I don't get it at all -- it's even more halting a publishing schedule (at least in terms of chunk size) than Dickens used, whilst being more complex than three-panel newspaper fluff.


Yeah, I'll have to have a browse at some point. :up:

2009-03-02, 10:52 PM
The upside is the pace when read in a trade is frankly astonishing, due to there having to be some sort of 'event' every two pages. Characterisation is non-existent as a side-effect. When there are changes, they happen in a jolt - like the Spider or Steel Claw going straight, it happens in a flash and then off the thing goes again.

But then people in general were amazingly patient at the time, even with kids' entertainment. Doctor Who ran a single story that ran for three months, without recaps...

The other interesting thing is the way superheroes just never really took off... Most of the Fleetway characters have some sort of quasi-realistic scientific grounding, and while they still have a decent following, the stuff that really sold books at the time was Paddy Payne, Roy Race and jokes. A lot of retrospective articles and the like refer to the Spider as an 'American style' strip simply because there was never really a logical explanation for what he was. Even in the mid-1970s something like Warlord could storm off... I mean, the great survivors are the Beano (don't let anyone give you any nostalgia bullshit, it is exactly the same as it has been for decades) and Commando...

More recently, Captain Britain was (sales-wise) a repeated disaster who only came to much prominence when he got into an American book in the form of Excalibur (on the plus side, Warren Ellis got some decent meta out of this) - flicking through issues of his original series you can see them getting more and more desperate... it starts off in full colour with fairly big names, and becomes a black-and-white back-up in a random Spider-Man reprint title written by Marvel staffers inside about a year...

Looking at it, it's little wonder that toy tie-in stuff like Transformers and Action Force gets much more credit over here than it does in America - we didn't have superheroes getting in the way.

EDIT: **** me, I ramble.

2009-03-07, 09:20 AM
Not sure if I've posted this before: -


Fleetway's hugely controversial '77 comic all scanned. Kids Rule OK! is the big name, but Hellman and Hookjaw are both worth a look too.

inflatable dalek
2009-03-07, 11:35 AM
RE Marvel not being able to get a proper foothold in the UK, it always puzzled me why DC (or even a UK company doing what Titan does for them now) never launched a Superman comic here off the back of the Donner film. Marvel were slightly undone in that the most obvious characters to launch in the UK either had a crap live action representation (Spider-Man) or the comic was so different from the show that fans of the former probably would find it a poor tie in (the Hulk).

Or was there some effort with the DC stuff that just never took off either?

2009-03-07, 11:56 AM
There were various efforts, but a factor was that DC didn't have a UK arm, and there weren't any comic companies like Titan - the ones at the time didn't run entirely on franchise spin-offs, it being a lot, lot cheaper to come up with their own stuff than stump up fees to DC (when spin-off stuff did come along, it was because the comic companies were paid to do it - the main reason Marvel Uk did stuff like Star Wars was because their US arm had already coughed up).

The comic industry in the UK at the time was built on titles that had been running for decades, and it'd take more than a film to break that up. One of the big draws of the first Superman at the time was the effects, not necessarily that it had a superhero in it. Media tie-ins rarely came into it - look at the way Transformers operated for the best part of eight years by contradicting the TV series and otherwise generally ignoring it (same for Action Force too).

inflatable dalek
2009-03-07, 12:37 PM
We probably did better that Australlia, apparently their Spider-Man reprints in the 60's/70's were edited to try and pretend they happened in Sydney. Despite the obvious New York skyline.

I can see why Captain Britain never really took off, the orignal costume looks silly enough as it is without being on a sehlf next to comics with much more conventionally dressed characters (hell, even pre-Britain dear old Dan Dare wore what's basically a RAF uniform desipte the futuristic space setting).

2009-03-25, 10:45 AM
The original Captain Britain also suffers for the god awful attempts at being british. Chris Claremont's work on that title was horrendous and the attempts at drawing British settings were ropey as well. I picked up most of the issues on Ebay and sold them on again fairly sharpish.

Terrible, terrible stuff.


2009-03-28, 09:39 PM
I don't think I've picked up the trade since I first read it through, TBH... some of the later stuff where they stopped trying to be too British and it could have been any Marvel hero, it just so happens that he's called Captain britain and it tends to be set in London, is a little more bearable.

But yeh, for me Captain Britain starts with Thorpe and ends just before Claremont got hold of him again (early Excalibur is fun in small doses, but as a run it's mainly an elaborate hatchet-job on Brian, whatever ridiculous explanation Davis later cooked up), with a passable slice of afterlife under Ellis, before Ben "The Crap Claremont" Raab and Claremont get him again. I'd love to read the Black Knight stuff, but it seems hard to get hold of (don't particularly fancy trying to put together a run of the Hulk Weekly at two pages or so an issue when there's little else of interest in there...).

Growing out of the idea of the Marvel universe a few years ago and realising I could just ignore anything I didn't like made me enjoy some stuff a hell of a lot more. So Joe Quesada's regime has not only saved me a lot of money by methodically turning every single title into absolute shite, but it's also made me love earlier gems a lot more

2009-04-14, 08:05 PM
Apparently the last Panini trade of Captain Britain's early stuff has the Black Knight stories in it.

Going to have to buy it now.