Tag Archives: Roy of the Rovers

Rebellion Specials 2020 – Part 2

On to the next set of Rebellion specials that I have received.

Originally set to coincide with the European Championships,  Roy of the Rovers Summer Special  made a few changes to better reflect the times we are living in.  The character of Roy Race has a long history, but even this new version has been around for a while. So unlike some of the other specials it has a well-established young fan-base and plenty of books  already available. So this will appeal to those fans and for those just taking a dip-in it may encourage them to check out the other books. For me I am familiar with Roy of the Rovers but I’ve only read Rocky (Roy’s sister) story from last year’s Tammy & Jinty. Here this comic though clearly in production before Covid-19 crisis it does reference the pandemic in the first story Roy and his friend talk briefly about how quiet the summer was with the lockdown, while I appreciate the effort it does then just make everyone standing so close together after that a bit glaring! More successful is the Rocky text story (By Tom Palmer) where she deals with being confined to home, clashing with her brother, worries over her future, not being able to complete her GCSE’s and fear for her father’s vulnerable position due to his pre-existing condition. All well handled and I really enjoyed this story.

To go back briefly to the first story, after they get over mentioning the pandemic, it goes onto the team’s new chair person setting up a tournament with teams around Europe, and Roy also wondering why one of his teammates is MIA. It is a solid story, you can tell there is a lot of history with these characters but it mostly does well enough as a stand alone story. Another story Old School brings back some old characters for a veteran super league, it is probably the story that will appeal to older nostalgic fans the most (Rob Williams writes both stories, with Elkys Nova art in first story and David Sque art in the second). Rounding off the special is some Ken Reid football humour strips, and features of Q&A’s with creators and original Roy Race’s England career explained. Football isn’t something that I rush to see, but I can see how this character’s world has been so successful and it is a well put together special, with stories that can appreciated even not being a football fan.

While not part of the Treasury Line, the next special included is the 2000AD Sci-Fi special this celebrates 20 years since Rebellion took over the rights to 2000AD. I haven’t followed 2000AD regularly for some years but it is nice to catch up with these characters. This is the biggest special at 100 pages and is a mix of reprints (Terror Tales, Sinister Dexter, Nikolai Dante, Dreams of Deadworld, Judge Dredd – Leaving Rowdy) and new stories (Judge Dredd- The Immigrant, Kingdom, Storm Warning, The Red Seas). While these are standalone stories, some work best if you are familiar with the characters. Most of my favourites were the reprints, clearly these were good picks to highlight the best of 2000AD. In Nikolai Dante (Script: Robbie Morrison, art: Simon Fraser) the title character, has a fever dream and finds he has lost his Weapons Crest, it is a lot more effective for me as I already like the character from previous stories that I have read. Terror Tales – Scene of the Crime (Script: Al Ewing, art: Simon Fraser) is a great one-off story in which two detective investigate a murder where strange symbols were left on the wall, one detective discovers the symbols have appeared in other murders dating back to a least the 1950s. Dreams of Deadworld (script Kek-W, art: Dave Kendall) is a very dark and creepy tale of the dark judge, Fear. Of the newer stories the highlight was Judge Dredd – The Immigrant as Dredd interviews Zombo, it was very amusing. I also appreciated the interview with CEO Jason Kingsley, which again shows the enthusiasm behind these comics and gives some insight into how Rebellion has come to dominate the British comic scene.

Another 2000AD related comic that was not part of the Specials bundle but I think is worth a mention here is Judge Dredd Megazine #421 which I picked up separately. I won’t go into all the stories here, just the reason I picked this up was to get the last part of The Vigilant saga (three Simon’s worked on this! script: Simon Furman, art: Simon Coleby, letters: Simon Bowland, colours: Len O’Grady) . This was an ambitious project, having a new super-team comprised  of modern versions of old characters like Leopard from Lime Street, Thunderbolt, Doctor Sin and others. While I’ve enjoyed the story I think having the story so spaced out and having too many characters and  lots of busy action made it suffer (particularly in the first full issue).  I feel they were actually hitting their stride more and the conclusion is satisfying enough. Also effective is Doctor Sin, giving a brief rundown of team while pondering the motives of one of them being a traitor, as it quickly lets those unfamiliar know who these people are. It was an interesting project I feel they would have done better with a smaller team at first and then introduce more characters, but I will enjoy re-reading the saga and catching things I may not ave noticed first time around. More relevant to the treasury line is the megazine comes with Vigilant Origins book which has appearances of characters as the first appeared, we get stories about the original Doctor Sin, the origin of Leopard from Lime Street, Death Wish, Steel Commando  and we also see stories of the villains; Von Hoffman’s Invasion and Dr Mesmer’s Revenge. This was enjoyable glance at what made this characters popular when they first appeared (and I’m sure will encourage people to checkout the reprinted volumes available).

Next  special released will be Tammy & Jinty, which surprising no-one I’m sure is the one I’m most excited for.

Jim Eldridge – Artist

Jim Eldridge is an artist who drew the long running serial “The Four Marys” in it’s final years (along with some other stories). He has kindly answered some questions on his timeworking for DCT and other comics.

Jim got his first work with DCT through LINK studios, under the agent Doris White. Another well known artist, Barrie Mitchell, also started his career in the same studio and both of them drew Roy of the Rovers strips at different times and have a similar style. This has led to some confusion of their work, but Barrie Mitchell did not draw The Four Marys, that was all Jim’s work. While Jim did draw other stories, it being so long ago, he can’t remember all the jobs he worked on then, and certainly none were as long as the time he spent on The Four Marys.

“When I joined LINK studios I had already has my first strip “Tarzan” printed for the TV Comic. I did various artwork jobs for DCT while with LINK studios but none for IPC. I wasn’t with them very long, I then moved to another agent “Roger & Co.” run by Jack  Wall and Kate Woolley, while there I did draw a few “Wee Sue” for Tammy and also got my first strip for the Bunty comic “The Three Imps” and  I also did “football libraries” for DCT.  That agency was taken over by Temple Art Agency run by Patrick Kelleher, it was while there I was offered “The Four Marys” for Bunty, and I also did Roy of the Rovers on a few occasions. I was with Temple for about 20 years. When Bunty ended I moved again to SGA agency for a few years and then to Linda Rogers agency for a while. I have been with my current agent Paul Beebee of Beehive Illustration for the last 16 years and illustrated many hundreds of Educational Books for most of the main publishers.” [You can see some of Jim Edridge’s more recent work here: www.beehiveillustration.co.uk]

       (The Three Imps – Bunty)

Jim got to know some other artists in the business; Barrie Mitchell, Mike White (Roy of the Rovers artist) and Mike Lacy, but there was no collaboration for Jim with the writers of the stories he drew for.  He was just given the script,  so he would just illustrate straight from script to final art. He only met with the Bunty editor Jim Davie, whom he got on very well with and he passed on the readers’ fan mail for The Four Marys to Jim. The Four Marys was a favourite with readers and many praised his artwork, the story was increased from 3 pages to 4 pages, keeping Jim busy as he had to produce this every week. He did have time for some other jobs but mostly The Four Marys kept him occupied enough, he had no idea it would run for 12 years and as a freelancer he was grateful for the steady work.

“With regard to The Four Marys. That was my favourite story to draw. I had no idea I would be drawing this story for 12 years [..]  I also did Four Marys picture library’s and summer specials as well as the Four Marys weekly pages and it was my artwork that modernised them and in colour.  It was an amazing long run to draw this story and I was thankful for the regular work. Being freelance. Looking back it was good to have drawn Bunty’s top story for 12 years.”

   

Of course sadly Bunty came to an end, but Jim has made his mark on the comic and is happily still working these days illustrating children’s books. “When Bunty finished it was a shock at the time, but I then moved on to Children’s book illustration”

List of Work:

  • Beehive Illustration
  • Football Picture Story Monthly
  • Mike’s Mini-Men (Roy of the Rovers)
  • Roy of the Rovers
  • Tarzan (TV Comic)
  • The Four Marys (Bunty)
  • The Three Imps (Bunty)
  • Wee Sue (Tammy)