Snapshot in Time: Brian Woodford and The Launch of Boys’ World, Part Two

A Short Introduction: Before his unexpected passing in 2016, author Roger Perry – a longtime contributor to this site and veteran of the British comics industry – sent downthetubes a number of articles which we planned to run, working back and forth to fine tune them in the run up to publication. At the same time, Roger submitted variants of some of his articles to other web sites and publications, and some material submitted expanded on his 12-part series on the life and times of publisher Leonard Matthews – but as he never had the opportunity to share details of what had been accepted elsewhere, I was rather unsure if I could post the articles at all.

Three years on from his passing, rather than consign these articles to history, I’ve decided to risk posting these items as snapshots reflecting his prestigious output. I hope you’ll enjoy them, and apologies if the content “steps on toes” elsewhere – John Freeman

December 2019 Update: While, sadly, Roger is no longer here to update and amend this piece, Brian Woodford has very kindly furnished his own memories of his times in publishing covered in this two-part article, which have now been incorporated. My thanks to him for doing this.

Brian Woodford - 2015

He Had Printing Ink Running Through His Veins!

“I was plucked from the obscurity of Fleetway annuals and sent to Hulton’s on Fleet Street to be a sub on Boys’ World. The info I got was that they needed additional help because after only a few issues they were running behind on press dates and needed additional help.”

Brian Woodford

Sub-editor, editor, designer, author, assistant balloon-letterer, director, picture-frame maker and self-imposed International Spy… here’s Part Two of Roger Perry’s profile of Boys’ World editor Brian Woodford…

The “Hulton House” Annex

For the original staff of “Juvenile Publications (Odhams)” – those that had been there prior to “The Gangsters of Fleet Street” (as Shirley Dean – Chief Sub-Editor of Girl had delightfully daubed them) had bludgeoned their way in and “taken over” – the days, weeks and months between September 1961 and November 1963 had been somewhat “dark”.

There was really only one way to combat this incessant inflow of “foreign bodies” emanating from the dreaded stables of Fleetway and that was to keep one’s head down; speak to no-one who you didn’t know; and above all, just get on with the work that you’d been given.

My own case of also having been prised away from the other three designers hadn’t helped one iota either – for prior to March 1962, it had a case of “United We Stand, Divided We Fall”… but now? I’d had that distinct feeling of having been “expelled” from the art-room . . . only to be moved into the Girl office – first to be alongside the aforementioned Shirley Dean and her assistant Anne Littlefield – and then two or three weeks later, were joined by the marginally scatty Linda Wheway.

Now you might think of me as being unfair to have called Linda “scatty”, but on getting herself ready for her first day at work, while in the process of wishing to present herself in the best possible light, the top had dropped off the scent bottle thus encouraging her to tip half its content onto all that she had been wearing. By the time Margaret Pride – Editor of Girl – had condescended to give us with one of her monthly appearances, Shirley, Anne and I had become acclimatised to the pungent fumes. However, Margaret could manage only two minutes seven seconds before she made a hasty exit with her eyes streaming madly and in search of a box of Kleenex.

But apart from that, at least I was tucked away and well out of the mainstream of the “Fleetway-Pandemic” and had therefore been unaware of the turmoil going on elsewhere.

My own comings and goings to and from the Annex office had been limited to simply entering the building via Red Lion Court; climbing four flights of stairs up to the fourth floor; take a left, then another left, and then a right and I was now seated at my desk without having come face-to-face with any other member of staff. It was much like that old schoolboy joke: “The Cat Crept into the Crypt, Crapped, and had Crept out Again!”

As you will have gathered by now, I’d kept a “pretty low profile” and had not really been involved in Boys’ World in any way whatsoever. However, having said that, for some odd reason that I cannot explain, perhaps it was around July or August of 1963 that I had been summoned to attend a meeting that had consisted of Jim Kenner, Andy Vincent (for Bob Bartholomew hadn’t yet been brought in to replace him), John Jackson and two or three others – maybe Dan Lloyd and Peter Stephens too… I cannot honestly say now).

Jim Kenner was the innovative North American who had originally been given the charge of editing and launching Boys’ World. It was during that meeting that he’d had piped up that, through various contacts (one of these might well have been Peter Stephens), he’d discovered that the RAF were selling off the fuselages of redundant English Electric Lightning fighters at rock-bottom prices (without its engine, I should hastily add) – and thought it had been a knockout idea to give one away as a prize in the first issue.

I’m afraid I put the mockers on this by saying that if the winner of this competition turned out to live on the top floor of the high-rise block of Bermondsey flats, I could just see the boy struggling to get his “pride-and-joy” into the lift before the automatic doors had closed and had chopped off one of its wings!

Mind you, it would have been quite a crowd puller – I mean to say: “Of these two comics, which would you buy?”

A re-imagining of Jim Kenner's possible cover for the first issue of Boys' World, alongside the actual cover (left), had Jim Kenner had his way...

A re-imagining of Jim Kenner’s possible cover for the first issue of Boys’ World, alongside the actual cover (left), had Jim Kenner had his way…

Despite his great enthusiasm and terrific, if occasionally bonkers ideas, Kenner had also been given the discouraging accolade of “not being able to organise a piss up in a brewery”. Boys’ World‘s launch-date was getting uncomfortably close and there were just too many things that hadn’t yet been commissioned. So that they could help out at this very late stage, Brian was, reluctantly, rushed over from Fleetway one Monday morning, to help Albert (Cos) Cosser, who had joined the company from the weekly comic being put out by the Daily Express.

He shared an office with Albert “Cos” Cosser, Colin Gibson who, although also from Fleetway, had never before worked on juvenile publications, and editorial assistant Chris Fowler.

“When I joined all the staff Cosser, Colin Gibson, and Fowler were in one office and my desk was there,” Brian recalls. “I saw virtually nothing of Bob Bartholomew. It was Jim Kenner who came in to check on things and to bounce ideas around. Cosser, I believe, was there from the beginning. Colin Gibson joined the week before me. 

“I like Cosser, everyone did, but he could be infuriating with his tardiness in showing up on time, long lunches etc and his constant lettering changes that should have been made on the original script.

“I must say that when I was at Fleetway I had no awareness of things going on at Hulton’s, until the day I heard that Alf Wallace was already there and that they had wanted me to go to help with Boys’ World,” Brian recalls. “Against my better judgement, I went. I didn’t have a good feeling about working for Alf, based on things I’d heard about him at Fleetway (cypher was the most common description of him). Looking back, I think perhaps the only reason I went was because it was expected of me and if I wanted to get on, then I should do it.

“Alf Wallace had no interaction with the staff at all. He didn’t even greet or acknowledge my arrival when I came over from Fleetway.”

As Brian has said in one of his many more recent mailings, “I had relatively little interaction with those who were working in the “Juveniles Group”. It did not take me long to discover an air of animosity which I think was directed at anyone coming over from Fleetway.”

I rather think that Brian’s own recollection of that rather gloomy time had been pretty disheartening also.

“While I worked there for a spell I have absolutely zero memory of its layout… except that the Boys’ World office was at the back. Everything else is a blank. I do recall a certain coolness towards me during that time on Fleet Street, especially from people in the art room… Brian Blake was there and also a couple of young girls as I recall, as well as one or two men. Liz was definitely one of the girls and the other was a round faced girl with black hair [Pauline]. I knew Graham Allen who had at one time been at Fleetway (or rather the old Amalgamated Press, as it had been originally called)”.

The men in that art room – apart from Brian Blake and Bruce Smith – would have been Bert Fielder and Roger Barndon. John Jackson and John Kingsford were there too, but they had had a smaller separate office leading off from that main room.

Hulton House - Layout of offices in Annex

“I never could quite understand the resentment since I’d had nothing whatsoever to do with anything Matthews had done there. I will say that after a short time, I really regretted moving from Fleetway mostly because I couldn’t stand Alf Wallace and thought my progress had come to a complete stop under his leadership.

“I also discovered that Boys’ World was indeed running behind schedule due to artwork having arrived late. However, in my view, further delays were being needlessly caused by the constant editing of strips that were being made even after the balloon lettering had been done and was already in place. Strips seemed to be very wordy and changes were being made after the lettering was done which only added to the delays.”

Woodford and Wordy Text

And So It Came to Pass . . .

Trying to establish the true facts that had taken place more than 50 years ago can be quite challenging. The following interview with the late Robert “Bart” Bartholomew is reproduced here from the spring 1995 issue of Eagle Times and is where “Bart” speaks mainly about the editor of Boys’ World Jim Kenner:

“He came to England looking for work; editorial work, writing work; and Alf Wallace, who was then IC at Odhams, was so impressed by him that he offered him Boys’ World to start, to create. Jim started out working, with me in the next room doing Eagle and him doing Boys’ World. Jim had the most ambitious schemes. He was, if you like, another Marcus Morris in his ambition but of course we’d moved on and there wasn’t that sort of money around. I remember he wanted to give a prize away of an aeroplane!

Robert Bartholomew - wearing two hats

Robert Bartholomew – wearing two hats

“Jim had a number of good ideas but unfortunately he was so impractical. And as we neared the first press day we were weeks behind – weeks! He hadn’t got this written, he hadn’t got that written: he didn’t know anybody in Fleet Street.

“Basically, I was called in by the management, who said: ‘We want you to take over Boys’ World immediately – as of now – because we’re due to go to press in X days time. We’re told that the paper is way, way behind and I’m afraid that Jim has just got to give way.’

“So I called in Jim. I said: ‘Look, I’m terribly sorry, Jim, but I’m told I’ve got to take over Boys’ World because it’s so ridiculously late. We’re never going to get anywhere near our press day.’

“Jim was awfully good about it. He accepted he didn’t know what was happening. Of course, I knew everybody in Fleet Street, in the Juveniles. So I simply got on the blower, and phoned this man, that man, any man I could get hold of, offered them a fortune just to get me a story in, get me some artwork in, etc., etc.

“And so, that was how Boys’ World came out, and how you see me [acting] as editor right from Issue One. But I was never intended to be. I then ran the two side by side.”

And now we come back to Michael Moorcock once again. I’ve never met the man myself . . . but going by the exchange of messages as seen and can be read in Part One of this story, I believe that Brian did and so I asked him to elaborate:

“Mike worked at Fleetway when I was there, but we never worked on the same publication or shared an office,” Brian recalls. “I think it was quite clear from those days that Mike had a real writing talent, subsequently borne out by a number of books.

“What sticks in my mind were the jam sessions sometimes held during the lunch hour in one of the offices. I know Mike was there, Fennell, too, but the only instrument player I recall was Angus Allan playing the clarinet.”

“Back in the 1950s there was an individual who appeared in the newspapers from time to time who was the headmaster of some school or other that allowed pupils to do pretty much as they pleased. He was seen as some kind of revolutionary educator. I think I heard back then that Mike attended this school. I can’t for the life of me remember the school or the man’s name.”

On delving further elsewhere – and pinching a bit here and thieving a bit from there, I learn that (and these are Moorcock’s own words): “I was expelled from a Rudolf Steiner school. I was the only person ever expelled until quite recently. I kept running away.” Moorcock expanded by saying: “I started doing fanzines from the age of nine. I’d been doing as many copies as you can get carbon paper into an upright typewriter and I’d try to sell them at school.”

At 16, Moorcock got a job at Fleetway Publications, editing Tarzan Adventures before moving on to write pulp detective fiction for Fleetway’s Sexton Blake Library. His first novel was published in 1961, when he was 23, by which time he was already a veteran writer.

On leaving Fleetway in 1961, he supported himself by strumming a guitar playing at clubs and coffee bars – skiffle at first . . . then Country and Western style. “When I discovered that I could make more money by writing than playing music, I stopped playing music.”

Writing was surely in his blood, for in 2008, The Times newspaper named him in its list of “The greatest British authors since 1945”… which is saying something.

On May 16th, 2011 – in his website “Michael Moorcock’s Miscellany” – he can be seen as having written the following piece:

“Jim knew we wouldn’t actually have to give away an aeroplane. He was inspired and I have to say with no ill intent Bob [Bartholomew] was a bit dull and rather self-satisfied, we thought.

“I remember issues coming out under Jim’s editorship – being in the office with Barry, looking at the new issue and so on. It’s simply not true that Bob was editing it from the start. I’m sure Harry Harrison would back me up on that. And my guess it was Andy Vincent, not Alf (who was more a Bob-type), who gave Jim the job. These were the early days of the “Big Knockover” as we called the merger of almost all major magazine publishers under one banner. A serious mistake in many ways. Dinosaurs are slow to adapt.”

Michael Moorcock and his Books

Michael Moorcock and some of his books

Two differing views of events that took place half a century ago. Bob Bartholomew’s recollection of Boys’ World’s” early days gives an interesting, if one-sided, insight into Jim Kenner’s involvement, but his statement strongly conflicts with Brian Woodford’s email that adds a good deal of weight to Moorcock’s understanding of the situation:

“It is interesting, too, some of the false information that is out there… some of it seemingly supplied by people we know placing themselves in a far better light than they should. One item, for instance, supposedly quoted Bob Bartholomew as claiming that he was the editor of Boys’ World from the very beginning.

“I arrived on Boys’ World after about five or six issues [had been completed and were ready for press] and Jim Kenner was clearly the editor at that time. I do not recall Bob being involved in any way. It was only after Kenner suddenly left (or was he pushed out?) that Bob took over the editorship of Boys’ World as well as for Eagle.”

Brian is so adamant about this anomaly that a week or two later, he sent a second email that had more or less said the same thing but was described in a slightly different way:

“Absolutely and most definitely Bob Bartholomew was not on Boys’ World at that time. Jim Kenner was the editor, Cosser was assistant, Colin Gibson had arrived about a week earlier, and a kid named Chris Fowler was another assistant. Chris was a bit younger than me and was there from the very beginning. If he could be found, he could confirm the early days of Boys’ World. He was from Southampton.

“Bob Bartholomew did not take over until Kenner either quit or was pushed out of the door. If I recall correctly, Bob was also editor of Eagle at that time when he took over Boys’ World. I was in the Fleet Street office for a few months before we moved to Long Acre.”

But even Brian Woodford’s recollection of that time brings in some elements of doubt. He has said: “I was in the Fleet Street office for a few months before we moved to Long Acre.” I am sure he will be surprised to learn that he had been housed in the Fleet Street office for a good deal longer than just “a few months”. Boys’ World was launched in January, 1963 and the Eagle Group of Papers was transferred as a whole to 96 Long Acre on Monday, 25th November 1963… and that is almost exactly ten months.

Adding to that, Brian had been transferred from Fleetway a good number of weeks before the launch due to the paper becoming well behind its schedule. So it may well be that Brian had been in Fleet Street for at least a year, if not thirteen months before the move over to Long Acre.

Certainly a muddle all round, but then, who can clarify this matter now (apart from trying to find this Chris Fowler?)

Colin Gibson – who did much of the magazine design – died several years ago… as have Albert “Cos” Cosser and Bob Bartholomew. When compiling his Bear Alley book, Boys’ World – Ticket to Adventure, Steve Holland informed me that his search for Jim Kenner had come to an abrupt end when he discovered from Jim’s brother that Jim had also died in 2013. There is – as far as I know – only Brian remaining and so if he chooses to say that black is not black at all but is white, then we are just going to have to accept it.

As we now see, Brian had been in the Annex of Hulton House for around twelve or thirteen months before “Juvenile Publications” were forcibly moved not only to brighter offices at 64 Long Acre but were now almost a mile further away from the influences of Farringdon Street, “Fleetway Publications” and Leonard Matthews.

Daily Herald newspaper and printing machine

Daily Herald newspaper and printing machine

The Old “Daily Herald” building at 96 Long Acre

The move from the Annex building at the back of Fleet Street and to the old Daily Herald Building at 96 Long Acre was like being given a new lease of life. The move had been somewhat akin to a “cleansing of the slate” – with the staff now having been moved, in theory (if not in absolute fact) they were “a brand new team” with the chance of playing out a “brand new beginning”… that all those unhappy troubles and tribulations of Hulton House had at long, long last been thrown out of the Reverend Marcus Morris’s Stained Glass Window.

“After a short period of time all titles were moved to the offices at Long Acre,” Brian Woodford has noted this atmospheric change. “Gradually, the air of resentment I felt dissipated, most likely because many of the old staff had left.”

96 Long Acre had been an old building where the thriving Daily Herald newspaper had at one time been produced and printed. Launched in 1912, the paper had a continuous daily run of 52 years – although during World War One, it had appeared only weekly – and finally closed in 1964.

The ground floor was where the huge printing machinery had been, and due to their enormous height, there had been no first floor as such, apart from the “gents’ toilet” accessed from the main Long Acre stairwell. The second floor level – that had once been the booming but chaotic newsroom – had been refurbished in glass and steel partitioning which, although a little ‘clinical’, had served us very well.

There were a total of fifteen offices that could be accessed from the very long single corridor that ran from south to north the whole length of the building and was parallel with Endell Street – Endell Street itself running from Long Acre at its south end and up to Shaftsbury Avenue at its northernmost point.

Earlier, Brian had said that the word circulating around Fleetway in connection with Alf Wallace had been “cypher”. On having looked the word up (as I hadn’t quite sure), the most common synonyms were perhaps “nobody” or “nonentity”, and it was interesting to note that even though my office had butted right next to his at both the Hulton House Annex and then again at 96 Long Acre, I doubt very much if between Monday, 10th September 1962 (when he took over the office from Val Holding) and May 1966 when I finally left to go to “TV21, that I ever saw him any more than a total of three times”… and one of those had been when I’d bought and brought fish and chips into the office and had stunk the place out.

Floor Plan of 96 Long Acre + staff

Floor Plan of 96 Long Acre and staff

Alf Wallace occupied the office at the northern-most end of the building where there happened to be a second but smaller stairwell – and this had been the one he’d come and gone by . . . so apart from Margaret Smith, no-one else had really ever seen him from one end of the year to the next.

“There was no interaction what-so-ever with any of the staff who was producing the very magazines that Wallace was meant to be overall in charge of,” notes Brian.

His secretary Margaret Smith came next (neé Puckeridge – for she had become “Smith” when she married designer Bruce Smith a little over one year earlier) and then the room in which Shirley, Anne, Linda and I had been allocated had come next. Nestled in between our office and the one in which Dan Lloyd and Brian (Benny) Green had been producing Eagle was where Boys’ World was being put together and where Albert Cosser, Colin Gibson and Brian Woodford had had their desks.

It was only after we’d moved in late November 1963 that I had met both “Cos” and Brian Woodford for the first time. There were, in fact, quite a few other members of “Juvenile Publication” staff that I had also come face-to-face with for the very first time. This undoubtedly had been due to my own “hiding away” at Fleet Street. But despite them being in a room right next to mine, there were still days – and even weeks – when we hardly ever saw or bumped into each other… Colin Gibson yes, for during that time (and in the weeks leading up to it), he and Shirley Dean had had “eyes for each other” and so he was constantly wandering in with a mug of coffee in hand to have “a quick five- or ten-minute chat”.

I cannot say whether or not Brian had been happy working at 96 Long Acre, particularly as it is only over these past ten or twelve years that (a) we have been conversing via email, and – perhaps more importantly because the barriers (of youth) have been lowered – (b) that we are now old enough to voice our innermost thoughts, feelings and opinions of a time now half-a-century past.

In speaking of his time at Long Acre, Brian has written: “What I do recall vividly about Long Acre was that while there I bought my first house in Ashford, Kent. It was about an hour rail journey and the service was not particularly good. The best train for me was the 6.20 from Cannon Street, white a way from Long Acre. I would try to slip out ten minutes early (quitting time was 6:00) dash down to the Aldwych and try to jump on a bus for Cannon Street, barely making it. Often the traffic meant I missed the train and then had to traipse all the way back to Charing Cross for the next train which left at 7.10. Usually this meant I didn’t get home until about a quarter to nine.

“I had the same problem at TV21, but was at least a little closer to Cannon Street with a bus right outside the door. It had one good point and that was that I could write my weekly strip on the train which I often did have it written out in longhand by the time the train pulled into Ashford. That five guineas a week was a godsend since it was a struggle to make it on the 27 pounds a week I was making.

“While Boy’s World had some interesting aspects to me there was nothing of interest when it closed and I found myself as sub on Wham, Odhams’ Beano,” Brian recalls.

“I had known Bob Prior at Fleetway (he started as a junior on Sun and Comet), who left there to become a freelance letterer and then became editor for a company that produced papers for the European market. He contacted me and I created and wrote a nursery strip with captions that produced some valuable freelance income.

“Bob later went to work with Fennell at Century 21 Publishing. I suspect he was the one who referred me to Fennell and I jumped at the chance to get away from Odhams.

“The period at Odhams was the worst,” Brian continues, “since I didn’t get a single raise the whole time I was there and freelance options were virtually nil. I don’t know where my brain was, as I eventually learned that people like Cosser and Colin Gibson were doing freelance work for Boys’ World and Wham that was paid through an agent Cosser knew… Dee somebody or other. So, desperate for extra income, I learned to do lettering (pretty poorly I might add) and got in on the deal making a few extra pounds that way.

“Usually the train was packed and it was standing room only until Sevenoaks or Tonbridge. I think it was the general crowding in London that finally pushed me over the edge to get out to Canada.

“Thank heavens there were weekends. A difficult time compounded by never getting a shilling raise the whole time I was there. I recall writing pieces for Boys’ World for free and even scripts for the WHAM! annual, for which I got nothing.”

According to my artist chum David Slinn, “Dee” was Doris White of Link Studios.

Bill Nuttall

Bill Nuttall

There was certainly one evening when Brian hadn’t dashed off down to Cannon Street or to Charing Cross or anywhere else. This was at a time when he was meant to be already on his way home. I was about to go myself when, as I walked down the long corridor that took me past the ‘big’ art room, I saw both Brian and Bill Nuttall slaving away trying to finish off a page destined for Eagle & Boys’ World… but it turned out that they were not entirely alone. The third person in the room had been standing at the “office boys’ counter” (on top of which had been that week’s advance copies) and patiently waiting for them to finish lettering the final page.

While Bill slowly-but-surely lettered each “balloon”, Brian – having been handed one or two completed pieces – had carefully read the words being uttered (and believing them to be correct) was now watchfully cutting out the roundel in readiness for Bill to place it onto the illustrated page . . . not only in just the right place but also with accuracy making quite sure that the words were level with the page.

With all the final balloons now lettered and done – and with the “tails” added to guide the reader as to who was allegedly uttering them – Brian was finally able to place the last board into printer Bemrose messenger’s bag thus allowing everyone to pack up and go home for the night.

Roger Perry
The Philippines
23rd September 2015

A 2019 Postscript

Writing in 2019, after our “first edition” of Roger’s tribute, Brian Woodford tells us that “overall I enjoyed my time on comics… it was much more fun than the business publications I worked on in Canada and the daily newspaper, which was my last job in publishing. That is, except for being back in the UK for six months from October 1972 to the end of March 1973. My father had died and I moved my family back to England, thinking I was needed there.

“My fears were unfounded and once I realised I could return to the US I took a job back at Fleetway on the girl’s weekly, Sandie. It was fun to be back working with John Jackson and Derek Pierson, but I think the writing was on the wall with regards to comics as it was a mere shadow of its former self.

“Leonard Matthews had many faults. but he was a mover and shaker.

I do miss the creative people I worked with in those days, crazy and creative, perhaps,” he notes. “Stunts like the day in Long Acre the art people looked out to see a military-like Volkswagen Thing parked on the street below. They set to work to decorate it with various World War Two German crosses and such, and watched with anticipation as the owner returned.

“They did the same with one of those basic Citroen’s, with the top that rolled back. This time, they built a huge key and dressed it up to look like a can of sardines..

“Silly stuff – but our world was pretty silly at the time in many ways!”

WEB LINKS

Boys' World: Ticket to AdventureBoys’ World: Ticket to Adventure

Boys’ World is one of the most fondly remembered of all British comics from the 1960s. An Eagle for the new decade, it featured across its centre pages the mighty ‘Wrath of the Gods’, an epic tale of deities and demons beautifully drawn by Ron Embleton. Readers thrilled to the adventure of ‘The Sea Ape’, puzzled over the question ‘What Is Exhibit X?’ and roared at the sporting antics of ‘Billy Binns and his Wonderful Specs’.

Boys’ World: Ticket to Adventure relates how the paper came into existence at a turbulent time for comics, how its original editor was replaced before the first issue even reached the newsstands and how it eventually folded into the paper it was meant to replace.

Compiled by Steve Holland, the book also includes extensive indexes to the paper’s contents as well as those of the Boys’ World Annuals; the book also includes title and creators’ indexes, outlines of every comic strip storyline the paper ran and a unique look at the payments made for three key issues.

Boys’ World: Ticket to Adventure is available direct from Bear Alley Books and online stores such as amazon.co.uk

MORE EAGLE DAZE

• Eagle Daze: The Life and Times of Leonard James Matthews – Part One
Roger explores the beginnings of the destruction of the Eagle

• Eagle Daze: The Life and Times of Leonard James Matthews – Part Two
The comic magazine Top Spot, published in 1958, was Matthews’ brainchild – but it was the male counterpart of an already existing magazine and it was a title that faced plenty of problems as it ran its course before merging with Film Fun after just 58 issues…

Leonard Matthews. Photo courtesy Steve Holland

Leonard Matthews. Photo courtesy Steve Holland

• Eagle Daze: The Life and Times of Leonard James Matthews – Part Three
Roger outlines how Matthews jealousy almost destroyed the Eagle

• Eagle Daze: The Life and Times of Leonard James Matthews – Part Four
Roger reveals a possible mole working on the Eagle and trouble behind the scenes on Girl

• Eagle Daze: The Life and Times of Leonard James Matthews – Part Five
How a Marks & Spencer Floor Detective Became Managing Editor of Eagle

• Eagle Daze: The Life and Times of Leonard James Matthews – Part Six
Roger reveals how Dan Dare co-creator Frank Hampson was thorn in Leonard Matthews side…

• Eagle Daze: The Life and Times of Leonard James Matthews – Part Seven
Trouble at the top for ‘The Management”, the troubled debut of Boys’ World – and the demise of Ranger

• Eagle Daze: The Life and Times of Leonard James Matthews – Part Eight
On the creation of Martspress, the company that would publish TV21 in its later, cheaper incarnation…

• Eagle Daze: The Life and Times of Leonard James Matthews – Part Nine
Moving from the sublime to the ridiculous, Roger recalls how Men Only was given a new lease of life – and Leonard Matthews’ ignorance of Star Wars

• Eagle Daze: The Life and Times of Leonard James Matthews – Part Ten
A phone-call out of the blue brings about a closer relationship with the one man Roger had once feared the most…

• Eagle Daze: The Life and Times of Leonard James Matthews – Part Eleven
A search for elusive promotional film stills end in the middle of nowhere in a one horse town without a horse – and Eagle‘s production methods are recalled

• Eagle Daze: The Life and Times of Leonard James Matthews – Part Twelve
Roger clarifies points made in past chapters, looks back on Leonard Matthews career – and sums up his contribution to British comics – and publishing in general…

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Roger Perry

Artist, designer, photographer and writer Roger Prölss Perry was the youngest of three children – the given name of Prölss deriving from the maiden name of his paternal German grandmother. Born in Guildford, Surrey in July 1938, after school he studied at the Regent Street Polytechnic School of Art close to Oxford Circus, the West End and the BBC where he achieved the National Diploma in Arts and Design before commencing with a further year of study in commercial design under the guidance of Ley Kenyon DFC, noted for his writing, art and underwater photography, and lithographer Henry Houghton Trivick (1908-1982). His first job in the media industry was as an in-house illustrator on Farmers’ Weekly, beginning in March 1959, working under the direction of Art Editor Alfred Harwood, working on the seventh floor of Hulton House at 161-167 Fleet Street, London. He was there for just five months before going into two years of National Service until August 1961, returning to the company (now Long Acre Press) as a layout artist (designer) at “Juvenile Publications”, the umbrella name for Eagle, Girl, Swift and Robin. He joined the team of three other layout artists – Bruce Smith, Ron Morley and John Kingsford – on Monday, 28th August 1961 where he remained until May 1966. He then began work as Art Editor at Century 21 Publishing until June 1969. As he says: “Yes, I suppose I could be described as a ‘layout artist’ but I commissioned art (Art Editor), kept an eye on Andrew Harrison and Bob Reed (Studio Manager), took photographs as and when needed (Resident Photographer) and generally made sure that everything was present and correct when everything needed was being sent to the printer (Office Boy). I also (with the help of Linda Wheway) came up with the ideas and photographs for five books (Author?)”. From Century 21 Publishing, Perry then went to Hamlyn Books (July 1969 to October 1970); and worked for Bob Prior’s premium packages for two months before joining ex-Art Editor of Century 21 Publishing Dennis Hooper in December 1970 who was now Editor of Countdown at Polystyle Publications. Perry remained with Polystyle until September 1974, when he became Art Editor for Purnell Books, remaining with the publisher for eleven years – until 1985 when he started operating his own public relations business. Due to his growing interest in the art and the close proximity of Bath where the nerve centre of the Royal Photographic Society is, he achieved the distinction of Associate Member in 1987 for audio/ visual presentations thus entitling him to display the letters ARPS after his name… although he rarely does. Having had a life-long fascination for the Far East, he moved to the Philippines in the 1990s, where he married Marilyn Gesmundo. He lived for 11 years on Cataduanes before moving a number of times recently following Typhoon Haiyan, finally with Raquelyn Navarro in the city of Naga in Cebu. Sadly, Roger died on 23rd July 2016 following a heart attack, just one day after his 78th birthday. He is survived by his daughter, Rae. His son, Marcus, predeceased him after a long battle with cancer.



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