Essential British Comics Reference: Bear Alley Books’ “Ranger The National Boys’ Magazine”

Online discussion about where a piece of art by the talented British comic artist Ron Embleton (TV Century 21, Look and Learn, Ranger, World of Wonder) might have been published prompted Bear Alley Books publisher Steve Holland to remind me about his excellent reference work, compiled with David Slinn – Ranger The National Boys’ Magazine.

The hunt for the publication history of a glorious Genghis Khan image drawn by Ron traced the work to, we believe, Look and Learn although we haven’t nailed exactly which issue yet.

[The actual publication turned out to be different thanks to information received in April 2019 – as you can read below]

But the discussion indicates Bear Alley’s reference work for Ranger prompted me to order a copy, and if you remember this short-lived title, which last just 40 issues before merging with Look and Learn, perhaps you should, too.

The cover of Issue 33 of Ranger, cover dated 30th April 1966. Art by Wilf Hardy of the early version of the Apollo Lunar Module, before NASA realised that square astronaut backpacks don't really go through round airlock doors.

The cover of Issue 33 of Ranger, cover dated 30th April 1966. Art by Wilf Hardy of the early version of the Apollo Lunar Module, before NASA realised that square astronaut backpacks don’t really go through round airlock doors.

Published in 2013 and still available from Bear Alley, it’s one of a series of excellent reference works covering the history and contents of some of Britain’s most fondly remembered comics. Ranger may not have lasted as long as Lion – another title Bear Alley has documented it style – but it was home to some memorable stories and features, including one of British comics’ finest creations, “The Rise and Fall of the Trigan Empire“.

“Trigan Empire” wasn’t the only story in Ranger to feature artwork by Don Lawrence. The book’s creators’ index includes an astonishing array of famous names, including Frank Hampson, Ron Embleton, John Millar Watt, Mike Hubbard, Jesus Blasco, Colin Merrett, Graham Coton, Francis Marshall, Henry Seabright, Will Nickless and Theo Page.

Ranger The National Boys' Magazine - Sample Spread

Ranger The National Boys' Magazine - Sample Spread

Ranger The National Boys' Magazine - Sample Spread

With stories by talents as diverse as Captain W. E. Johns and John Creasey, Ranger was able to offer boys’ some of the best reading material on offer, including Richard Armstrong’s Carnegie Medal-winning novel Sea Change; its photos, cutaway drawings and heavily illustrated features covered everything from duels in the sky to exploding islands, from James Bond’s DB6 to the Mariner Mars expedition.

Compiled by Steve Holland and David Slinn, Ranger: The National Boys’ Magazine explores the history and background of the magazine, its contents and its lasting legacy. The book also includes an extensive index to the paper’s contents, as well as title and creators’ indexes.

To give readers a flavour of the contents, the book also includes the full run of the ‘Famous Fighting Aces’ feature by Colin Merrett as well as two complete comic strips, “The Adventures of Macbeth” by Ruggero Giovannini and “Moby Dick” by Franco Caprioli.

Ranger The National Boys' Magazine - Sample Spread

Ranger The National Boys' Magazine - Sample SpreadBear Alley Books has also published “King Solomon’s Mines” and “Treasure Island” from the pages of Ranger. This is a thoroughly recommended guide to finding out the full story behind this classic of British comics.

• Ranger: The National Boys’ Magazine is published in A4 perfect-bound format, 162 b/w pages with an iconic cover by Ferdinando Tacconi and a rear cover featuring the work of Don Lawrence and Frank Hampson. It’s available direct from Bear Alley Books – find out how to order it here

Oh, wait… you want to see the original Ron Embleton art that started off this quest, don’t you?

Well, it took a while but in April 2019, thanks to downthetubes reader Peter Mansfield, we can reveal the illustration is from “Legends in Their Lifetime: Genghis Khan”, but it’s from Eagle Volume 19 No.12 – cover dated 23rd March 1968 … not Look and Learn after all!

Here’s the original art…

Look and Learn Annual art - Genghis Khan charge by Ron Embleton

— and here it is, in colour. Thanks!

This post was updated on 6th April 2019 to reflect the information received from Peter Mansfield

Ranger and Look and Learn © Look and Learn Ltd. “The Rise and Fall of The Trigan Empire” © Rebellion Publishing Ltd



Categories: British Comics, British Comics - Books, Creating Comics, downthetubes Comics News, downthetubes News

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1 reply

  1. The Embleton illustration is from ‘Legends in Their Lifetime: Genghis Khan’ from ‘The Eagle’ v19n12 – 23 March 1968.

    You’ll find a colour jpg of the image at:
    http://www.focus.it/site_stored/imgs/0003/038/con_14.alb1753893.900×600.jpg

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