British Comic Reference | British Comic Characters Profiled | Garth

Early Garth
Early Garth

Garth was the brainchild of strip cartoonist and writer Stephen Dowling and BBC producer Gordon Boshell. Both were working on the British national newspaper the Daily Mirror and were asked to create a new strip by its editor. The pair came up with the concept of a “strong man” strip, loosely modelled on DC Comics superhero Superman and the first daily strip appeared int he Mirror on Saturday 24th July 1943.

As a small child the man who would become Garth was washed ashore in the Shetlands in a tiny coracle. Pulled out of the sea by an elderly couple who then adopted him, Garth grew up to be incredibly strong. He became a Navy Captain, but his boat was torpedoed and the shipwrecked Garth was washed up from the sea on a wooden raft, amnesiac from his experiences, coming to land on a small island. There. he is discovered by Gala, a native girl, who introduces him to her people, and who he later saves from a despotic tyrant.

In “The 7 Ages of Garth”, we discovered Garth could relive his past incarnations – effectively travelling through time and space.

In the 1970s story “Journey into Fear” it was revealed Garth had extra-terrestrial origins. His great-grand father, Space Exploration Commander Wolfen from the planet Saturnis, fell in love with an Earth woman and Garth was the result of their relationship.

Reprints of the strip feature in the Mirror to this day, coloured by Martin Baines.

Contributors down the years included Frank Bellamy while Peter O’Donnell of Modesty Blaise fame contributed some stories.

In spite of the acclaimed talent that worked on the strip, until the Noughties just five official dedicated Garth books have appeared over the years; a flip book (with Romeo Jones on the reverse) in horizontal format in the late 1950s or early 1960s; The Daily Mirror Book of Garth (1975; a softback annual with Frank Bellamy art which had topless girls censored/bikini tops added, and also in 1976; a horizontal format, Frank Bellamy art uncensored, nipples aplenty) and two Titan Books collection in the late 1980s, Cloud of Balthus and Women of Galba.

John Dakin also reprinted some great Steve Dowling/John Allard/Frank Bellamy complete strip collections in the 1970s.

• The Complete Garth Story List – Wiki

Originally compiled by Geoffrey Wren and Ann Holmes, the site on which this first appeared is now only available through web archive sites. In 2015, myself, Ant Jones, former Garth writer Philip Harbottle and others utilised the list below to create a Garth Wiki, which updated and corrected that list and includes past story outlines and more.

Garth on the Mirror web site

The Return of Garth (2008)

In August 2008, after a long gestation period, adventure hero Garth returned to British newspaper The Mirror  in a new adventure. Artist Huw-J talked to John Freeman about the new strip and his many plans for the character’s ongoing revival…

• Garth Reborn (2015)

In 2015 Ant Jones and Bill Storie began an all-new Garth story set after the final original take “The Z-File”, published with the permission of the Mirro on the strip’s official Facebook page. We ran a news story on the project here; the series will resume shortly.

International Hero “Garth” Entry

• The All Devon Comic Collectors Club
Contact: Email or write to Neal Trotter, 20 Wreake Drive, Rearsby, Leicester, LE7 4YZ, England

An offshoot of the old South West CCC, the ADCCC, which closed its doors in 2016, was mainly centred on the Exeter area, searching for prime quality images for the (complete) British story booklets that is their raison d’etre.

The desire of elder members to see old newspaper strips again, linked with the poor quality of the yellowing photocopies that were doing the rounds, provided the impetus for the club to decide to track down and reprint ‘lost’ Garth strips. A search for other British titles naturally followed, including good quality prints of Romeo Brown, Paul Temple etc.

The closure of the ADCCC and the Newspaper Daily Comic Strip Library was announced in January 2016 after Paul was diagnosed with a terminal illness.

There is more information about the work of the club here on downthetubes


2 thoughts on “British Comic Reference | British Comic Characters Profiled | Garth

  • December 19, 2014 at 2:32 am

    Where on earth can I buy Garth Comics?

    • December 19, 2014 at 9:22 am

      Some of the Australian albums occasionally turn up on eBay or in the four-times-a-year auctions at CompalComics. You might also want to contact the All Devon Collectors Clubinfo here. They may have back issues of their limited edition magazines collecting the strips. Colour versions of some Garth strips have also appeared in past issues of Spaceship Away. “The Bubble Man”, coloured by John Ridgway, featured in Issues 19 -23; and “The Finality Factor”, drawn by Martin Asbury with colour by Tim Booth featured in Issues 24 – 30.


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