Art for the Marney the Fox stories for Sunny magazine published in the 1980s, artist unknown

Marney the Fox: after Buster, a “Sunny” star, thanks to Bernard Long

Art for the Marney the Fox stories for Sunny magazine published in the 1980s, artist unknown
Art for the Marney the Fox stories for Sunny magazine published in the 1980s, artist unknown

The beautiful Marney the Fox collection, gathered from the pages of weekly comic Buster is out this week, but who remembers an incarnation published in the nursery title Sunny in the 1980s?

The “Marney the Fox” comic strip – the story of a wandering fox cub – by Scott M. Goodall, drawn by John Stokes, appeared in Buster  from the issue dated 22nd June 1974 through to 11th September 1976. We’ve published some art from the story here on downthetubes and can thoroughly recommend this latest addition to 2000AD publisher Rebellion’s Treasury of British Comics range.

Art for the Marney the Fox stories for Sunny magazine published in the 1980s, artist unknown
Art for the Marney the Fox stories for Sunny magazine published in the 1980s, artist unknown

Sunny – not to be confused with the magazine published by George Newnes, initially as Sunny Stories for Little Folk in 1926, edited and written by Enid Blyton (although she was only credited as the editor) – was published by IPC as a fortnightly nursery title in the 1980s.

(IPC seemed to like the title – there was a 1960s/1970s version, too, which was merged with Disneyland, which became Disneyland and Sunny Stories with Issue 18 in 1971).

The first page of a typical episode of "Marney" from Sunny Issue Six
The first page of a typical episode of “Marney” from Sunny Issue Six
Clever Marney saves the day!
Clever Marney saves the day!

Marney” appeared in every number of Sunny, which ran for just nine issues from November 1986 to February 1987 when it was incorporated with Funtime.

The art is by the little-known artist Bernard Long, an extraordinarily talented and reliable contributor to many Amalgamated Press/ Fleetway/ IPC titles and the Young Telegraph during the 1990s. 

Better known for his book illustration work, which included dinosaurs and prehistoric animals, he also drew many episodes of “Fliptail the Otter” for another nursery title, Jack and Jill, in the 1970s, and to the Jack & Jill and Teddy Bear annuals.

Art by Bernard Long, possibly for the book Strange and Curious Creatures offered on eBay by an Australian gallery
Art by Bernard Long, possibly for the book Strange and Curious Creatures offered on eBay by an Australian gallery

It is thought that he contributed to Look and Learn in the late 1960s and back page artwork for Fun-To-Doin later years. In a note on the Illustration Art Gallery blog, fellow artist David Slinn recalls that Long was “quietly efficient, very reliable and, as a result, somewhat taken for granted.”

Does anyone know if the strip continued in Funtime? Inquiring minds would love to know.

Marney the Fox is available now from all good bookshops 

• If you’re a John Stokes fan, you may also want to track down his work adapting Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, published by Classical Comics in 2009

There is a checklist of Bernard Long’s known work here on the Illustration Art Gallery

There’s art by Bernard Long for sale on Book Palace

With thanks to Phillip Rushton and David Slinn. “Marney the Fox” © Rebellion Publishing Ltd.

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John Freeman

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.

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