The Daily Mirror has dropped its reprints of the adventure strip “Garth“, reportedly deciding the strip is “not appropriate” for today’s newspaper market.
Garth, first published in the 1940s, which enjoyed a lone and successful run of original strips until it was cancelled in 1997. was the brainchild of strip cartoonist and writer Steve 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, and the first daily strip appeared in the Mirror on Saturday 24th July 1943.
After a long break, the Mirror began to reprint Garth, in colour, in 2011, but with the completion of the 1984 story “La Belle Sauvage“, written by Jim Edgar with art by Martin Asbury on Saturday, coloured by Martin Baines, the strip has again been dropped from the national newspaper.
“Unfortunately, it’s has been decided by the Editor that Garth is now regarded as not appropriate for todays newspaper market,” colourist Martin Baines posted on the Garth – Comic Strip Facebook Group.
Martin had begun work colouring the 1992 story “Twin Souls“, written by Philip Harbottle, with art also by Martin Asbury, before he was told the Mirror had decided to drop the strip.
I have to confess that it’s a bit of mystery as to why the strip is considered “inappropriate”. The stories have the style of James Bond adventures, regularly shown on ITV, and these modern reprints of Garth have been adapted for modern audiences, amending the art to remove female nudity, now considered unsuitable in a very different society in which they were first published.
Might the decision also be a matter of cost saving as newspaper circulations continue to decline, as has also been suggested?
Sadly, this brings an end, at least for now, to the publication of any action adventure comic strips in British national newspapers, with many originated humour strips, such as “Horace“, “Beau Peep” and others falling victim to cost savings too, in recent years. It’s a very sad day for fans of such work.
“For me, colouring Garth has without doubt been one of my favourite jobs,” notes Martin Baines, “and I am particularly proud that I coloured all the Frank Bellamy Garth.
“I want to thank the Daily Mirror for the nine and half years’ work and a further five years colouring Scorer, when the main colourist was on holiday. It’s been a real pleasure and if things ever change I would love to return.”
As a way of thanking fans and the Daily Mirror and to create a full circle, Martin has retouched two recently re-discovered Frank Bellamy Garth strips, episodes published in Scotland’s Daily Record from the Garth strips “People of the Abyss” and “The Wreckers” stories that did not appear in the Daily Mirror, for reasons recounted by archivist Norman Boyd here on his Frank Bellamy Checklist Blog.
• Mirror Cartoons are online here
• Martin Baines is available as an artist and colourist – check out his work at www.martin-baines.co.uk
Garth © REACH/ Daily Mirror