Former Roy of the Rovers artist David Sque has begun work on illustrating a new graphic novel, Preston North End – The Rise Of The Invincibles, a project from Preston-based Invincible Books that is also offering fans the chance to win an appearance in the book itself.
In the summer of 1883, William Sudell set out on a quest, pure in honesty, extreme in vision. What happened next would change the face of modern football, forever.
Preston North End – The Rise Of The Invincibles is the story about a club – born of men from factories and mills – which blazed a trail through British football, fuelled by the ferocious ambition of one man, who garnered a team blessed with glorious talent and a sheer bloody-minded refusal to ever give in – a team that touched on perfection and passed into legend, forever to be called, invincible.
Due for release next season, and we have an exclusive look at some of the finished pages below, this graphic novel telling the story of the birth and early success of one of England’s most famous clubs is the brainchild of local writer, Michael Barrett which, in addition to David’s art, will include a Foreword by former player and now BBC pundit, Mark Lawrenson, presenting the days of the Invincibles as you have never seen them before.
Twelve chapters of glorious illustrations will span the 1860s through to 1889; taking in along the way, the Industrial Revolution, the American Civil War, the Lancashire Cotton Famine and two Preston Guilds – thus naturally offering a social history alongside that of a football club.
One of twelve founding members of the Football League, Preston North End were the first team to win the League and FA Cup double in the same season – a feat they achieved by going the whole campaign undefeated, whilst not conceding even one goal during their FA Cup run.
But it’s not this alone that sets them apart.
Over the years numerous records were broken for attendance, high scores and unbeaten runs, as North End’s scientific approach and innovative training took football to new levels. Yet, perhaps the most significant legacy of William Sudell and his team is the major role they played in the fight to legalise professionalism – a move that propelled football into the modern era and laid the foundations for the global phenomenon it is today.
Under the dictator-like control of Sudell, North End became an unstoppable force and supporters flocked in their thousands wherever they played. And now, with a nod towards the comic books of the past, Preston North End – The Rise Of The Invincibles will recall the heady days of Victorian football, as famous players such as Fred Dewhurst, Jack Ross and John Goodall, leap out from the pages and breathe new life into a story we all know and love, but have never witnessed.
“The story of the Invincibles had long since taken hold of my imagination,” says writer Michael Barrett, “when a mural at the back of the old Pavilion stand first brought them to my attention. I must’ve been only eleven at the time. I’d never heard of them before, but their very nickname conjured a sense of otherworldly, comic-book heroes. Here, I thought, is something special. Maybe the seed was sown then?”
With over 30 years’ experience in all fields of artwork, David Sque is bringing a wealth of talent and his own special brand of football artwork. Many Roy of the Rovers fans will fondly remember his work throughout the 1970s and 80s, but he’s also well known for his work on Scorer for the Mirror, which he drew for ten years.
“His vibrant images of Roy Race and Melchester Rovers are legendary – and the thought of him bringing to life the days of our very own Invincibles, is a mouth-watering prospect for all football fans,” says Michael, “be them North Enders or nay!”
A special charity raffle – which will be drawn on 22nd May 2015 with money raised going to the The Baby Beat Appeal – also offers Preston North End fans the chance to feature in the book. Ten lucky winners will feature in a modern day crowd scene in the book, and win copies of the title. All they have to do to enter is purchase a £1 raffle ticket at one of a number of venues around Preston.
Local coverage of the project in the Lancashire Evening Post and the Preston North End programme has attracted interest from fans, and we hope the project is a success for the team.
• Visit the Invincible Books web site – sporting a logo by Doctor Who artist Russ Leach, no less – to find out more about the project: www.invinciblebooks.co.uk | Follow Invincible Books on Facebook | Follow Invincible Books on Twitter @InvincibleBooks
• Join the Invincible Books mailing list on the official site for sneak previews of David’s work as the book unfolds
• For more information about David Sque can be found at: http://www.davidsque.co.uk
• Preston North End Official Site: www.pnefc.net
Preston North End – The Rise Of The Invincibles © Invincible Books/Michael Barrett/David Sque