60th anniversary collection of Wham!’s “Kelpie the Boy Wizard” in the works

Kelpie the Boy Wizard: 60th Anniversary

Rebellion is to publish a 60th anniversary collection of “Kelpie the Boy Wizard“, first published in the weekly anthology comic Wham! in 1964 and 1965, written largely by Ken Mennell with art, and a new cover, by John M. Burns.

In days of old, when King Arthur reigned over Britain, there was at royal Camelot an apprentice sorcerer by the name of Kelpie.

Together with his venerable master, the great and powerful Merlin, Kelpie uses his magic to protect the kingdom from evil doers including The Raven and the Weird Sisters of Doon.

First published sixty years ago by Odhams Press in Wham!, the complete saga of “Kelpie the Boy Wizard”, a new 96-page collection, “channels Arthurian legend through a Harry Potter filter”, say Rebellion, which, it has to said, is a little bit odd given that the strip predates JK Rowling’s boy wizard by some 30 years.

The strip, presented throughout its weekly run in black and white, was the work of John M. Burns, whose death has, sadly, just been announced, but who created a new cover for the collection before he passed.

Ken Mennell had an extensive career as an editor for Fleetway, working on a variety of classic comics. He had a hand in creating several strips, including “The Steel Claw” and “Black Max”.

However, he wasn’t the only writer on the strip. Editor and writer Keith Chapman, also known as Chap O’Keefe, who now lives in New Zealand, who knew colleague Ken Mennel as a script editor during his early days as an editorial junior at Fleetway, wrote the “Kelpie” story in the first Wham! Annual 1966 published in two colour, and tells us he doesn’t know if this was the only Kelpie yarn not to come from Ken Mennell. “Burns’ depiction of my Macbeth-like witches was superb!” Keith told The Tainted Blog back in 2011.

John M. Burns’ painted art graced several 2000AD series, notably “Judge Dredd” and “Nikolai Dante”, as well in as his own co-creation, “The Bendatti Vendetta”. He also contributed to “Black Light”, “Doctor Sin”, “The Scarlet Apocrypha”, “Vector 13” and “Witchworld”. Outside the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic, he pencilled Eclipse’s ESPers and the James Bond miniseries, A Silent Armageddon.

Kelpie the Boy Wizard: 60th Anniversary
By Ken Mennell with art by John M. Burns
Out: 20th June 2024
Paperback, 96 pages
ISBN: 9781837861705

• There’s a two-part interview with Keith Chapman on WriteALot blog published by Nik Morton, featuring among other legendary characters for magazines devoted to Sexton Blake, Edgar Wallace, and Leslie Charteris’s The Saint | Part One | Part Two

Categories: British Comics, British Comics - Collections, Comics, downthetubes Comics News

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