Lost classic children’s British comics from the 1970s and ’80s are to be brought back to life by 2000 AD, following its acquisition of the Fleetway and IPC Youth group archive from Egmont UK last year.
Ben Smith, head of books and comic books at Rebellion Publishing, which owns 2000 AD, described it as a chance to restore “a vital but largely overlooked piece of British cultural history”.
The new Treasury of British Comics line will launch in June this year with John Wagner and John Cooper’s “part Dirty Harry, part Judge Dredd” One-Eyed Jack, first published in 1975.
This will be followed in July by the first collection of Mike Western and Eric Bradbury’s “British Spider-man” series The Leopard from Lime Street.
The Watership Down-style tale of a lone fox’s desperate struggle to survive against wicked humans, Marney the Fox, by writer M Scott Goodall and illustrator John Stokes, will be published in hardcover in September, followed by Gerry Finley-Day and Eric Bradbury’s The Dracula File from the pages of Scream!, which saw ‘red peril’ meet gothic horror as Dracula stalked 1980s Britain in one of the 1980s’ most popular comics.
November will see the second volume of the classic 1980s ‘horror comic for girls’ Misty, featuring two stories: “The Sentinels” and “End of the Line”.
And in December, a collection of Ken Reid’s legendary Faceache from Jet and Buster will be published in hardcover. One of the all-too-forgotten greats of British comics, Reid’s work has been cited by Alan Moore and Pat Mills as a major influence.
All titles will be distributed through Simon & Schuster, which already distributes 2000 AD’s bestselling imprint of graphic novels in the UK and North America.
Ben Smith said: “The wealth of story and art from past decades is woefully unexplored and our experience with the 40-year history of 2000 AD was that, if curated in the right way, this material has a large mainstream audience and that classic comics represent extraordinary opportunity not only to satisfy contemporary readers but also save and reinstate a vital but largely overlooked piece of British cultural history.
“It’s an incredible way for parents and grandparents to pass on their own childhood to new generations in the same way that sharing The Wind in the Willows or The Hobbit with children and young people forges and reinforces bonds across families.
“The reprographic work is extraordinarily involved. Most pages have to be sourced from the original printed comics, as the film and artwork has been lost long ago. We have over a decade’s experience with a full time reprographics team, and we expanded the head count to take on the extra workload.
“We’re balancing material we have found to be of exceptional quality, with stories that readers have begun clamouring for as lost classics and little known gems.”
Originally published: 1975-1978
Release date: June
Part Dirty Harry, part Judge Dredd, all badass – Police Detective Jack McBane is the toughest, meanest law enforcer in 1970s New York City. Having lost his left eye in the line of duty, McBane will stop at nothing to rid the crime-infested streets of scumbags and villains – even if it means having to occasionally break the rules! This first collection in Rebellion’s dedicated Treasury of British Comics line, collecting lost classics from the golden age of British comics, is a key strip in the history of British comics and a dry run for John Wagner’s greatest creation: Judge Dredd. Never before collected, this story from the pages of legendary children’s comic Valiant marks one of the turning points in modern comics history.
The Leopard from Lime Street – Book 1
Originally published: 1976-1985
Release date: July
One of the most requested reprints from the Fleetway/IPC archive, The Leopard from Lime Street is the British Spider-man – a hugely popular home-grown teenage superhero! Billy Farmer lives with his Aunt Joan and Uncle Charlie in the when he is scratched by a radioactive leopard at the local zoo. Gaining leopard-like strength, speed, reflexes, and tree-climbing abilities, when he’s not fighting crime, Billy sells photographs of himself to the local paper, using the money to support his frail aunt while contending with his violent, greedy and lazy uncle. With warmth, wit, and stunning artwork by Mike Western and Eric Bradbury, The Leopard from Lime Street is a gem of 1970s and 1980s British comics.
Marney the Fox
Originally published: 1974-1976
Release date: September
Written by the late M Scott Goodall and beautifully illustrated by John Stokes, Marney the Fox is a Watership Down-style tale of a lone fox up against wicked humans, channelling Lassie and The Fantastic Mr Fox along the way. Marney is a young fox desperately trying to survive against the odds, from dodging blood-thirsty farmers to encountering other wild animals. This is a beautifully illustrated story capturing the British countryside and wildlife in astonishing detail showcases Stokes’ finest work, a masterpiece that has lain un-reprinted for decades and makes an ideal children’s book and early Christmas present.
The Dracula File
Originally published: 1984
Release date: October
From the pages of Scream! and presented in a sumptuous hardback edition, this is horror comics at its best! KGB officer Colonel Stakis desperately hunts for Count Dracula, who is spreading terror in 1980s Britain after escaping from behind the Iron Curtain. Blending Cold War paranoia with horror staples, Gerry Finley-Day and Eric Bradbury’s strip overcame sustained attempts at censorship to become one of the 1980s’ most popular comics.
Misty – Book 2
Originally published: 1978-1980
Release date: November
We follow up our hit first volume of the ‘horror comic for girls’ with another collection of two stories: The Sentinels and End of The Line. Misty was a revolutionary concept by 2000 AD’s creator Pat Mills in 1978 and left its mark on a whole generation of young women. The two identical tower blocks, known as ‘The Sentinels’ to the locals, stand tall over the town of Birdwood – but only one is occupied while the other remains mysteriously empty. When Jan Richards’ family lose their home they decide to hide out in the abandoned block so they can stay together, only to be sent into a parallel world where the Nazis conquered Britain in 1940… In End of the Line, Ann’s father was one of a group of engineers believed to have been killed whilst working on an extension to the London Underground but when she and her mother are invited to the opening of the new train tunnel, Ann discovers a mysterious time portal through which several workers are being kept as slaves by an evil Victorian called Lord Vicary.
Originally published: 1971-1988
Release date: December
Ken Reid is consistently name-checked by the greats of comics – from Alan Moore to Kevin O’Neill, John Wagner to Pat Mills – for his unique art that is matched only by his enduring sense of humour. In a hardcover edition befitting his status as one of the all-too-forgotten greats of British comics, we present his timeless Faceache – the humorous adventures of Ricky Rubberneck, the boy with a “bendable bonce” whose skin stretches like rubber. At will, he could ‘scrunge’ his face into anything, whether it’s mimicking others or turning into grotesque creatures – but usually comes a cropper!