Mad scientists, giant monsters, and courageous saboteurs! That’s the one line “pitch” with which 2000AD publishers Rebellion are promoting their Treasury of British Comics collection of the Jet and Buster strip “Von Hoffman’s Invasion” – and it sums this crazy strip up perfectly.
Perhaps taking a leaf from the TV success of Irwin Allen’s Land of the Giants SF series, a popular show that had its own strip in TV21 & Joe 90, writer Tom Tully (The Leopard from Lime Street, Johnny Red and much more) came up with a unique tale involving gargantuan animal attacks on hapless Brits, for a series drawn by Eric Bradbury (The Dracula Files, Doomlord) that rightfully deserves its description of being one of the best – and maddest – British cult comics of all time.
In the story, insane evil Nazi genius Dr Von Hoffman, just released from prison for his war crimes, is far from the broken man his captors assume. Inspired by his experiments with a mechanical centipede, he happily sets about the development of an amazing enlarging gas to exact a diabolical revenge on Britain for opposing Germany in World War Two.
(That his laboratory has never been dismantled 25 years after his arrest and all its chemicals are still active is merrily glossed over, of course).
Utilising an army of giant critters and beasts to attack provincial towns, stately homes and army camps, the only thing that stands in his way are the plucky young brothers Barry and Joey Drake…
First published in the short-lived anthology Jet, which ran for just 22 issues and also gave British comics fans the wonderful humour strip “Faceache” (now also being collected), “Von Hoffman’s Invasion” is, perhaps, the only worthwhile adventure story from the title deserving its enduring success and fans. Unlike, for example, the awful “Paddy McGinty’s Goat“, which thankfully did not survive Jet‘s merger with Buster.
(Jet, like Thunder, seems to have been a “Hatch, Match and Dispatch” title – created with the intent only of attracting new comic readers and then bringing them on board, and boosting the sale of a more buoyant ongoing rival).
Eric Bradbury‘s work in illustration began at Gaumont-British Animation after World War Two, alongside future comic creators such as Mike Western and Ron Smith. Working for Amalgamated Press after the company closed in 1949, his early credits include both humour and adventure strips, particularly westerns like “Lucky Logan” (alternating with Mike Western) and “Buffalo Bill”, both for Comet.
In the 1960s and the 1970s his darker art style brought a unique look to strips such as “Maxwell Hawke”, “The House of Dolmann”, “Mytek the Mighty”, and, later, “The Leopard from Lime Street” (inking Mike Western’s pencils) and for Buster, “Von Hoffman’s Invasion”, and “Cursitor Doom” for Smash!.
As noted on the UK Comics Wiki, He was one of the mainstays of Battle Picture Weekly in the 1970s, drawing such strips as “Joe Two Beans”, “Coward’s Brand on Bradley”, “Crazy Keller”, “Death Squad”, “The Fists of Jimmy Chang” and “Invasion 1984”, and also drew “Hook Jaw” for Action.
For 2000AD he drew “Invasion”, “The Mean Arena” and “Rogue Trooper”, as well as numerous “Tharg the Mighty” stories and “Future Shocks”. He also drew “Doomlord” for the revived Eagle (a strip owned by the Dan Dare Corporation).
With glorious art from Bradbury, Von Hoffman’s Invasion Book One is just the latest collection of announced British comics collection on its way this year from Rebellion, with three definitive Charley’s War collections already revealed, and The Beatles Story, collecting the acclaimed strip by Angus Allan and Arthur Ranson from Look-In, already on their way.
Von Hoffman’s Invasion Book One
By Tom Tully (writer) and Eric Bradbury (artist)
Publisher: Rebellion Graphic Novels
Out: 4th May 2018
“Von Hoffman’s Invasion” first appeared in Jet (issue cover dated 2nd October 1971) and ended in Buster (issue cover dated 21st October 1972)
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“Von Hoffman’s Invasion”, and the comic titles Buster and Jet © 2018 Rebellion Publishing Ltd