The limited hardcover edition of the Jinty story “Concrete Surfer” is out now from Rebellion. Here’s a quick guide to the story, and profiles of creators Pat Mills and Christine Ellingham.
Centring on a skateboarding rivalry that would not be out of place in the sport’s forthcoming Olympic debut, Concrete Surfer, written by Pat Mills with art by former Tammy Art Editor and later freelance artist Christine Ellingham, was published in Jinty in 1978 (with a a follow-up story was published in the 1978 Jinty Summer Special).
Featuring lovingly restored artwork from this cult classic, the standard paperback edition of this collection has been delayed due to the Coronavirus Pandemic lockdown and will now be published on 17th September 2020.
The Limited Edition hardcover edition is only available from the Treasury of British Comics web shop here, and a digital edition is also available here.
Sent home to Britain after her parents fail to establish a new life in Australia, Jean Everidge is forced to rely on family charity, moving in with her Aunt, Uncle and cousin Carol, successful gymnast, beloved of teachers and pupils alike, and all round charming “top girl”.
Jean has one solace left to her – skateboarding, surfing the concrete pavement, while forgetting all her troubles, and feel free. But her freestyling talent soon attracts attention, and if there’s one thing Carol can’t stand, it’s being out of the spotlight.
With the new skatepark freestyle contest coming up, just how far will Carol go to stay number one?
The Concrete Surfer: Meet the Creators
Pat Mills’ needs no introduction to downthetubes readers. His writing and editorial career started in Dundee, working for DC Thomson on the teenage romance magazine Romeo. Later he went freelance and started a long relationship with IPC Magazines, initially writing for girl’s titles like the revolutionary Tammy, where he was assistant editor, Pink and Sandie. Then, with Malcolm Shaw, he did some preliminary work devising Jinty before moving over to rejuvenate boy ’s comics. He created Battle (with John Wagner), Action, Misty and 2000AD (featuring Judge Dredd ).
Other notable works include Marshal Law, “Third World War” in Crisis (this now also being collected by Rebellion), strips for early issues of Doctor Who Weekly alongside John Wagner, and is currently writing Requiem Vampire Knight with artist Olivier Ledroit and developing a new anthology, Spacewarp. He has also recently written several books including Be Pure! Be Vigilant! Behave!, a history of 2000AD and Serial Killer with artist Kevin O ’ Neill, a darkly comedic thriller.
Now retired, but still painting, the Jinty Resource site notes Christine Ellingham‘s freelance credits for Jinty include “Race for a Fortune” (1977-78), “Concrete Surfer” (1978) and “Dance Into Darkness” (1978). She also did a few stories in one or two summer specials / annuals including the Lindy Summer Special (1975) and Jinty Annual 1978, and also drew some “Gypsy Rose” tales, such as “Haunted Ballerina”. She also drew at least two Annual covers, for Tammy (1972), including the front endpapers depicting National Costumes and Sandie Annual (1973), plus, later various spot illustrations for IPC teen titles such as Oh Boy and Loving.
“I loved drawing the frames for the ‘Concrete Surfer’ story,” commented Christine in a comment on the Jinty Resource site, whose comics career began at a staff layout artist and fashion illustrator on the girls’ teenage magazine called, Go Girl! at City Magazines in 1968.
Born in Buckinghamshire, Christine studied art at Banbury College of Art with emphasis on life drawing and draughtsmanship, before completing studies at Hornsey College of Art.
In a wide-ranging interview for the Jinty Resource, Christine outlines how, after Go Girl! folded after a very short life, it was suggested she approach Leonard Matthews, at Fleetway. “I did, and was offered a job there. In those days it was relatively easy to move around from one job to another.
“Initially, I was placed in a department with several other people, not a specific title, where we did odd jobs for different papers, i.e. illustration, lettering, pasteup and, in the case of Alf Saporito, cartoons,” she recalls “… After a short period I was moved to the Nursery group, under the managing editor, Stuart Pride, and there I worked on a new publication called Bobo Bunny. This had come from Holland and needed adjusting size wise and certain content adaptation making it suitable for the UK market.
“By now John Sanders was the overall editor of the juveniles. I have a feeling I wasn’t the first to be offered the position of art editor of a new girls’ paper called Tammy but I accepted it nevertheless and moved from juvenile to teenage. John Purdie was the editor and Gerry Finley-Day and Iain MacDonald made up the editorial team… Eventually, Tammy was launched and did very well.
“I was able to contribute a small amount of artwork, the back cover of the first edition is mine, but really my job was to get it all together, see the agents and in one case, the artists themselves (I remember Roy Newby used to deliver his own work) but usually the agents would deliver the artwork.
“I have to admit, I was not entirely happy in the role of art editor,” she revealed. “I had studied illustration at Hornsey College of Art and that was what I wanted to do. I left Fleetway 1971/72. Barry Coker and Keith Davis of Bardon Art represented mainly Spanish strip artists. I thought that maybe I could ‘have a go’ at doing this as a freelance and doing it from Spain. Barry and Keith took me on and my then partner and I moved to Spain. Just like that! This was 1972. Amazing really.”
Whilst living in Spain she lost the use of her right hand to ‘Focal Dystonia’, forcing her to learn to draw with her left hand. These were troubling times as this took a while to achieve and she and her husband had to return to England. However, once the left hand was up and running, Christine continued contributing to IPC comics and Jinty was one of them.
‘Christine says, “‘Concrete Surfer’ stands out for me because it was such fun to do, it was all action with hardly any background, it was very modern and I love doing figure work. I remember we bought a skateboard so that I could see it from all angles, a helmet too, I still have them!”
After a few years working for the comics market and in the 1980s and 1990s Christine moved on to contribute illustrations to magazines for adult readers, for example, Woman’s Own, The Lady and IPC’s Loving and Oh Boy, to national newspapers: the Daily Mail, and those of Mirror Group Newspapers; and the house magazines of BP, the Royal Mail and British Gas. She also worked on several commemorative coin designs.
Retirement allowed Christine and her husband, Ron Morley, to return to Spain to concentrate on painting and this time to live there for eighteen or so years. They returned to the UK in 2019 but she continues to paint and now lives in Suffolk.
While in Spain, she exhibited regularly and had permanent displays at Hotel Molino del Santo and Hotel Molino del Puente, both near to Ronda, Málaga province, and took part in Ronda’s Artisanía Market.
Watercolour has always been her favourite medium but she also uses acrylic and continues with various subject matters, landscape, still life, portraiture and quite recently, abstract collage.
• Buy The Concrete Surfer Limited Edition hardcover edition available from the Treasury of British Comics web shop here, or the digital edition, available here
• Christine Ellingham is online at www.christineellinghamfineart.com
Concrete Surfer and Jinty © 1978, 2020 Rebellion Publishing IP Ltd