A dedicated creative team is hoping to finally revive Milton Wheeler, a British comics small press transvestite star of the 1990s, with a crowdfunding campaign for Being A Girl: Milton Wheeler – The Collected Stories, the story of a young man coming to terms with being a cross-dresser.
In the early 1990s, Dave Metcalfe (as he was then) released the short-lived but memorable small press anthology called Slices, which ran for just 10 issues. One of the stand-out strips from those issues was “Slap”, the story of Milton Wheeler – a young man in London, written by Will Brooker and drawn by Dave.
A sequel, “Inside Jenny”, appeared in My Life Story, another anthology run by Metcalfe, this time with Paul Barlow joining on pencils. A few issues later, a third story, “Secret Identities”, appeared, followed by a stand alone comic, Molly Ringwald is Dead – then nothing.
Rumour had it of a fourth script, “Closet”, but, like the unreleased Nirvana album, it was just another myth of the 1990s.
Fast forward 15 years, and the missing script has been found and drawn by the old team of Barlow and Dave Metcalfe-Carr, as he is now known. All five of the Milton stories will feature in the proposed collection, Being A Girl: Milton Wheeler – The Collected Stories, which has a modest crowdfunding target of just £650, re-inked and re-lettered, along with pin-ups by Chris Askham, Robert Wells and Nigel Lowrey.
“I’ve been wanting to do this for a few years, but have never had everything in place until now,” says Dave.
“Thankfully, we are now at a time when a book about transvestites and gender identity will have an opportunity to find its audience.
“When the stories first came out they were seen by 27 people at its peak,” he adds, although we suspect he’s being just a little bit modest. “Through social media, the net and Kickstarter we can hopefully find the audience it deserves.”
The Milton Wheeler stories are written by Will Brooker, writer of My So Called Secret Identity, the critically-acclaimed story of Catherine Abigail Daniels, a normal woman in a city of superheroes, featuring art by Suze Shore and Sarah Zaidan. A Professor of Film and Culture, he’s written many books on fandom and popular culture.
Artist Dave Metcalfe-Carr has been producing comics since the 1990s. He’s currently working on a future issue of the independent comic Sentinel and work for the anthology title, Paragon. He’s also worked with Borderline Press, Professor Elemental, PJANG, Too Much Sex and Violence, amongst others, in the UK, America and Netherlands.
“I was going through stuff as I was about to get married when I found the script to ‘Closet’, he reveals. “My lack of interest in comics and massive changes in life meant that it was never drawn.
“I had recently remade contact with Paul through the glories of social media and asked him if he was up for drawing the final story for the sake of closure. I was planning to put together an anthology of stories each year like the annuals I used to get each Christmas. Instead I started to think about collecting the tales in one place, with the new strip as a device to get readers to pick the book up.
Paul Barlow is a writer and artist who has created comics sessions at Burnley Literary Festival, worked for Slave Labor Graphics and whose credits include The Pendle Witches and Phoenix Square. He published his latest comic, Freedom Scorned, under his own Ginger Jam label which is available through Comixology.