Cor!! Buster Humour Special: meet the creators!

We talk to some of the talent behind this zany revival of classic British comic book characters!

4 months ago

Prepare to have your funny bone tickled this April, as the Treasury of British Comics brings you The Cor!! Buster Humour Special, 48 funny pages of beloved character from the golden age of British humour comics!

Classic characters in all-new strips by some fabulous names in modern British comics, perfect for readers who remember these characters from the first time and just as perfect for a new generation of readers!

We’ve rounded up a few of the fabulously funny comic makers responsible for putting the comical back into  comics...

The identity of The Feek is unknown, but in the Cor!! Buster Humour Special, he’s written the strips Swines of Anarchy, a completely new tale of porcine pottiness, and Hide A Horror, Reg Parlett’s classic of a monster hire agency.

Lizzie Boyle is a comics writer and editor who’ll be bringing us the Tammy & Jinty Special, celebrating the spirit of those classic girls comics of the '70s, later this year. Burt before that, she’s worked with artist Abi Bulmer on GUMS!, the classic shark strip, created by Roy Davies and Robert Nixon, from Monster Fun.

Andy W. Clift is a comics artist with a fabulous pulp style, who’s bringing his art to Disappearing Trix, Reg Parlett’s classic Buster strip of a teen who can make herself invisible with just a blink.

Sammy Borras is a young artist who brings her stylings to the classic X-Ray Specs, with Ray given a pair of very special specs by his optician dad, as originally drawn by Mike Lacey in the pages of Monster Fun and Buster.

And Ned Hartley is responsible for writing two of the most well-known characters in the Special, Ken Reid’s scrunger supreme Faceache (with artist Steve Mannion), and Leo Baxendale’s Grimly Feendish (with artist Tom Paterson)

How did you all get involved with the Special and can you tell us how you approached bringing these classics back?

The Feek: I’ve written Swines of Anarchy (with Pye Parr on art) and Hire A Horror. Hire A Horror was something that I read growing up and really enjoyed and I’ve had several HAH ideas percolating around in my head for years, but the story that appears in the Cor!! & Buster Special was very much inspired by the artist (Mick Cassidy). As for Swines of Anarchy, that was born out of that final joke on the last panel – it’s one of those ‘so bad it’s great’ gags. I just built a story around it. Swines of Anarchy is our love letter to Oink! I wanted to write a porcine-focused story and even toyed with resurrecting Ham Dare, but when Pye Parr came on board I knew we had to have some cars or bikes in the mix. I know what direction the editorial wanted to go in. More Oink! than Dandy. We’re aiming this at 8-12 year olds, so I have been lucky to have a few soundboards to test ideas out on. Seems that kids this age find vomit, farting, burping and explosions incredibly funny. It all came about when I bumped into the editor down the magazine aisle of my local Sainsburys. We both started to bemoan the fact that there didn’t appear to be any good comics for kids on the shelves anymore, just rows and rows of bagged plastic tat. He was impressed with my knowledge of the Fleetway classics and asked if I wanted to pitch some ideas. When I agreed, he turned the whole affair into some kind of weird X Factor-type thing, grabbing Iris from the tills and Mitch the unit from the fish counter. I then had a minute to pitch as many stories as possible to all three of them. Mitch thought that they were all rubbish, but Keith and Iris both quite liked Swines and HAH. The rest is history…

Andy W Clift: I’m drawing a two-page story featuring Disappearing Trix, from Karl Stock’s story, which I’m really excited about. I read a bunch of old Disappearing Trix strips to get a feel for the character. We wanted it to feel like a continuation of the original strips, while at the same time, add out own stamp to it and not for it to feel like an imitation. Editor Keith emailed me saying he had a story that he thought I’d be good for and I naturally jumped at the choice. The project sounded really fun.

Lizzie Boyle: I’d already contributed a story to the Scream and Misty Special 2018 – based on a girl’s adventures with her best friend, a giant albino alligator. Perhaps that put me onto Rebellion’s radar for another animal-based buddy story! Together with Abi Bulmer, we’ve brought back denture-wearing shark Gums and his surfing nemesis Bluey in a story called Tag. Bluey wants nothing more than to steal Gums' teeth. The spanner in the works this time is marine biologist Sophie Justice. Gums is one of those classic stories where two characters pit their wits against each other week in, week out. As a kid, I never questioned why a surfer and a shark would be engaged in this sort of rivalry…

Sammy Borras: I was asked by editor Keith Richardson to illustrate the X-Ray Specs script by Gráinne McEntee. I had a look through the older comics I could find online and tried to keep a similar story telling layout. I was a bit nervous because this is my first time drawing a classic character for publication. I have a different drawing style to the older comics of X-Ray Specs and I was worried about him looking off model, but the square glasses and hair flick seem to be the most important features so I think it went ok.

How did you balance bringing your own twist or something new to the strips and yet still being true to the spirit of the originals?

LB: Our two main protagonists - Bluey and Gums - are pretty faithful to the original. That meant reading a LOT of old Gums strips as I developed this one: which was an absolute pleasure! For this story, we've introduced Sophie Justice, the sensible, ethical scientist, and brought things up to date with some topical themes (watch out for the poor old turtle...).

SB: I kept the panel layouts as close to the older comics as I could, but added a couple of points where things break outside the panels to add to the dramatic effect. I think the way I ink and colour is a little different to the older kids’ comics, probably because the technology for drawing is so different to the 70’s. The solid black X-ray effect in the older comics was pretty important to keep and I think it leads to really cool striking compositions.

AWC: We modernized Trix’s design slightly, but nothing too drastic. It was very important to us that she was still recognizable as Trix. I tried to add more dynamic composition to the panels, but the page layouts and panel shapes are very similar to the original strips. I come from an animation background and have quite a cartoony style, so I don’t think that’s a massive departure from the originals either.

With the Treasury of British Comics, we’re seeing a great number of very important works being brought back into print. What do you think of what’s been done thus far and what are you particularly looking forward to seeing?

LB: For a long time, comics were seen as a throwaway medium. Everything was paper; everything would fade over time. There’s such a rich history of British comics from the second half of the 20th century and Rebellion have become great custodians of a lot of that work. I’m the editor of the new Tammy & Jinty Special coming out in the summer, so it’s been incredible to get really involved in bringing back the spirit of those comics as well!

SB: I’m looking forward to seeing the Tammy & Jinty special in the summer, girls comics had fizzled out when I was a kid and it was really interesting to find them while studying the history of comics. I think a big reason why a lot of my peers loved manga was because lots of the stories were for girls.

Feek: There has been quite the eclectic mix of titles released from the Treasury so far – Marney the Fox is a very different beast to Invasion 1984. I’m very excited about what is in the pipeline – The Complete Johnny Future will be a must have for me.

AWC: I think anything that brings back any great British comics of the past, is fantastic. We’ve got an incredible comic history in this country. I’m really looking forward to this special coming out to see all the other wonderful stories with these classic characters. And I’m really looking forward to the Tammy &Jinty special too which I’ve also been lucky enough to work on. I loved Roy of the Rovers growing up and the new stuff has been awesome, and I hear there’s a new Rocky of the Rovers in the new Tammy & Jinty Special, which should be fantastic.

With the Cor!! & Buster Special, it would be fabulous if a new generation of comic readers fall in love with these classic characters. What are your thoughts on comics for children and how do you see things developing in the future?

AWC: I think comics for children are hugely important to the future of the comic industry. I’ve been working on my all ages creator owned book, the Adventures of Captain Cosmic, for over a year now, because I want to do something younger readers could enjoy. The good people over at Phoenix Weekly are putting out wonderful all-ages content and then there’s the Little Heroes anthology, edited by Aaron Rackley, which raises money for charity and is fantastic. I can only see projects like these and more specials like Cor!! & Buster growing and creating more young comic fans. I’m shortly going to become a first time Dad and I can’t wait for my child to be old enough for me to share my love of comics with!

Feek: Comics for children are essential if we want to see this industry grow. In fact, most of the comics and comic characters we cherish today were created with children in mind – even 2000 AD! We are starting to see some encouraging signs with DC actively trying to put out more material for younger readers and there are great titles for kids like Spook House and The Phoenix. What we need to see is more strip driven material on the newsstand and less bagged, toy-advertising, tat-pushing rubbish taking up that valuable space on the shelves.

The Cor! & Buster Special is on sale now from all good newsagents and comic shops!