I have been wavering over what to do for this, my 100th article. I had thought to do a cricket article as it would allow me to feature the art of Mike Dorey from Howzat? and Is It Cricket? and use a lot of 100 not out style comments. I had thought to continue my best of the rest article series about Commandos and list the ones that I would not hesitate to recommend to anyone.
I had also thought about doing an origin story of how I ended up as big a comics fan as I am and it is still something I can do another day. I had even thought to snaffle the idea of what made up my current idea of a perfect comic, but I have chucked that listing at Comic Flix and I am sure that I will have a different group of favourites in 12 months time!
However, one of my abiding and continuing joys in comics is solving credit mysteries and then sharing the wealth to all. This week, I have not solved one but two mysteries and herein is the tale of how they were solved and to tell that tale seems most appropriate for my 100th article.
First off we need to go back a few months into Autumn 2017 when I picked up a pair of Diana annuals from 1974 and 1975. I bought them from a local shop as they were going cheap and the dustjackets were still in very good condition. However, as I was flipping through the pages I was stunned to see that they featured art from the talented Jesus Redondo who I know from his work in Starlord and 2000AD. This prompted me to wonder if anyone else was interested in the work of Jesus Redondo and I began to search social media and I found one group dedicated to his art which I immediately joined! This helped me to be attuned to his work when I saw it.
Then Lew Stringer asked on Facebook in the last week what everyone’s favourite comic from their childhood was. And my choice for my childhood favourite was Crunch which I read from issue 1 until issue 54 before it was merged with Hotspur. When Lew Stringer mentioned that he had yet to read them, I began to wax rhapsodic about the contributions of Salinas on Mantracker, Pat Wright on Hitler Lives, Ian Kennedy on Morgan’s Mob and Smasher and Quique Alcatena on Arena which was when the penny dropped on me about who the artist was on Space War. So I rushed off to find my copies (alas these are replacement copies) to find the first issue that featured Space War and was mightily pleased to be rewarded with the knowledge that I had found another example of Jesus Redondo’s work and that I had closed another gap in my mental checklist of artists’ work.
For those interested, Space War was a thinly disguised space opera reworking of the Battle Of Britain and ran from issue 41 to issue 54.
My second mystery involves one of my favourite characters from Victor and that is Joe Bones, the Human Fly. Joe Bones is the scruffiest soldier in the British Army in World War II but he is without peers when it comes to mountain climbing. However two artists were responsible for creating the look of Joe Bones. One was Felix Carrion and it was thanks to Jeremy Briggs that I was able to put a name to his style. However, the other artist has proven to be a lot more difficult to track down and I had given up on it as almost a lost cause until this weekend just gone when I picked up yet another Diana annual. This was the 1969 annual and I was going to put it back until I looked at the first story which was The Girls From N.O.O.D.L.E.S. (If you really want to know what it stands for National Organisation for Order, Discipline and Law Enforcement in Schools. This agains adds to my theory that stories in the D C Thomson comics were absolutely toffee but who cared as we got caught up in them and the art was so stunningly good?)
Now my spider sense was tingling and I was positive that this was the artist that I was looking for, but who could I ask for help? This is where I am so fortunate in having some amazingly talented friends as I was able to ask my guru when it comes to identifying artists that have worked in the girls’ comics sector. That guru is David Roach who is not only an amazingly talented artist in his own right but also a massive girls’ comics fan in his own right and he has helped to expand my knowledge in that sector in leaps and bounds. David was kind enough to advise me that the artist I was looking for was Geoffrey Whittam.
So here we are with two comic mysteries solved and not a jinkies in sight!
Art reproduced courtesy of DC Thomson & Co Ltd