Happy Birthday, Junior Express Weekly!

Express Weekly Issue 263, published in 1959, featuring "Wulf the Briton" by Ron Embleton

Express Weekly Issue 263, published in 1959, featuring “Wulf the Briton” by Ron Embleton

Junior Express Number 1 is cover dated 4th September 1954, but changed its title to Junior Express Weekly with No.39 (cover dated 18th June 1955), then simplified itself to Express Weekly with No.74, before finally settled upon being called TV Express from No.286 (Phew!).

Strips included “Wulf the Briton“, created by Jenny Butterworth and Ruggero Giovannini but best remembered for the strips by Ron Embleton (reprinted as Ron Embleton’s Wulf the Briton: The Complete Adventures by The Book Palace), “Lone Ranger”, drawn by Mike Noble, “Jeff Hawke” (based on Sydney Jordan’s newspaper strip for the Daily Express) and the “Battle Brothers” drawn by Harry Winslade.

It also featured “Jet Morgan”, strip stories by Charles Chilton based on his radio show Journey Into Space, drawn by Ferdinando Tacconi, Bruce Cornwell and Terry Patrick. some of which have been reprinted in Spaceship Away. The strip began in Express Weekly Issue 84 in April 1956.

When the title changed to TV Express the TV-inspired strips included “Gun Law”, “Yogi Bear”, “No Hiding Place”, a series of Danger Man text stories inspired by the spy series starring Patrick McGoohan, and, later, “Alfie and Bill” (Alfie Bass and Bill Fraser from The Army Game). Not to forget “Biggles”, a 1960 tv series based on the books by W.E. Johns. (See www.biggles.info).

“From what I’ve seen, Express Weekly was one of the best British weeklies of the period,” noted Lew Stringer back in 2007 regarding it as a “forgotten treasure” of the 1950s, “and it was certainly as good, if not better, than some of its more popular contemporaries.”

Its final issue was No.375, dated 6th January 1962, merging with TV Comic.

• British Comics Wiki: http://ukcomics.wikia.com/wiki/Junior_Express

• Blimey!: http://lewstringer.blogspot.co.uk/2007/02/express-weekly-forgotten-treasure.html

The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.



Categories: British Comics, Features

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1 reply

  1. Derek Pierson, who worked on Express Weekly, said this of this item on Facebook: “Between yourself and Steve Holland the pair of you are unfolding the story of my life in comics … and, yes John, I worked here as well!

    “I forget how many times I drooled over Ron Embleton’s artwork before lettering Wulf The Briton every week. The nice thing about those days was the pleasant chats we used to have with the artists (or their agents) when they brought their artwork in, no pressure until the day before press day. Louis Patience was the Managing Editor in those days and John Cunningham was his assistant.

    Eventually the two comics were sold to TV Times and we moved from Fleet St. to High Holborn. Thanks for the memory jog!”

    Read the first part of our interview with Derek here

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