And now for something completely different - UK Weekly comics of the past..
In the UK, there was, in my youth and in some ways to this day, a thriving, and very different comics industry to the US one, or even the mainland European.
Split between boys and girls comics, the former were just as likely to be slapstick comedy as adventure, and the latter were somewhere between romance comics and mild domestic dramas. Stories were one to three pages long, often episodic and could run for decades (Usually reserved for the comedy stories)
Recently, a UK newspaper produced, as a giveaway, reproductions of various UK comics from the 1970's and 80's. I'll feature some samples from these in a series of posts.
First up is the footballing (eg what everyone on the planet other than Americans calls football eg soccer) legend which is
Roy Race debuted in 1954 in the "Tiger" comic, as an aspiring player for Melchester Rovers. Over the decades we saw him grow older (very, very slowly, but age he did), get married, raise a family, play many seasons for Melchester, appear for the English national team all over the world, and deal with any number of soap opera type tragedies. He actually was the headliner in a comic between 1976 to 1995.
His footballing career ended in 1993 in about the only way such a legend could end... he lost a foot in an accident and had to retire from playing. There was an attempt to revive the title by featuring his son Rocky Race, but it didn't last long without his Dad, who eventually returned as he progressed from player, to manager, to owner of Melchester Rovers, which is where the series ended.
Throughout the series, a strong sense of fair play, a consistent work ethic and the triumph of the just against the merely powerful was present. Common story tropes were "troublesome new player" (either their selfishness was won over by the team, or their eccentricities embraced), "unscrupulous opponents" (usually cheating foreign teams), "the entire team kidnapped abroad", "lucratively tempting offers from foreign teams", and so on... In one story in 1986, almost the entire team was wiped out by a terrorist bomb mistakenly hitting the team-bus, in an event that earned the title a reprimand from the Commission for Racial Equality for it's anti-Arab attitude.
This issue was published in 1981, shortly after a rather famous popular soap opera event in "Dallas"....
Oh, and check out the fluffy 1980's haircuts! :) (also, apologies if the red text boxes are hard to dead, this is a tough one to scan)
This may not seem like much, but it was a BIG event in the UK. "Roy of the Rovers" was (and still is) a byword for good clean sporting drama, so this was quite something. Real life celebrities and sportsmen sent in their good wishes (a little positive PR never hurt)
There were other strips too. I show this one as being a remarkable testament to the acceptance of the bizarre in the UK psyche, as well as being a little bit of a boost for those readers without the physiques to be a Roy Race. The adventures of Kevin "Mighty" Mouse, who is a short, overweight little fellow with a bad haircut who needs to tie his large glasses in place with string before playing, but who makes up for it with dedciation. The subplot about him being a medical student is truly odd.
The Matron in the last panel is magnificently ghastly creation, her casual acceptance of the name "Mad Annie" should be information enough that this is NOT someone you argue with when she tells you to drop your trousers and cough.
And as an example of the sheer flexibility of football as a concept. We have action football strips, comedy football strips and in this case, a SUPERNATURAL football strip...
It's like Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) (Known in the US I believe as "My Partner, the Ghost") given the obscene quantites of cash earned by professional footballers these days, it's almost a sad reflection that this was obvous even 28 years ago...
Next time, something for the ladies, in the shape of "Tammy"