Wildcat Preview Comic - Wildcat Centrespread SNIP

Wildcat, one of Fleetway’s last boy’s adventure comics, to be collected

The cover of the Wildcat Preview Comic given away with titles such as 2000AD and Eagle in advance of launch
The cover of the Wildcat Preview Comic given away with titles such as 2000AD and Eagle in advance of launch

Rebellion are to publish a collection of strips from Wildcat, Fleetway’s short-lived, last real attempt at a fortnightly boy’s adventure comic, launched in 1988.

There’s also a mention on Amazon for another Jinty collection, Fran from the Floods.

Published by Fleetway between October 1988 and March 1989 (with a free Wildcat mini-comic given away with 2000AD, Eagle and Whizzer and Chips the week before the launch), the title strip centred on the adventures of Turbo Jones and his crew as the spaceship Wildcat explored space, looking for a new home for the survivors of a doomed Earth.

Wildcat Preview Comic - Cast Introduced

Wildcat Preview Comic - Cast Introduced
The cast of Wildcat introduced in the Wildcat Preview Comic. Art by Ian Kennedy

The series was developed by its editor Barrie Tomlinson and Fleetway’s John Sanders, with designs by Ian Kennedy, who also worked on the title. Ian kindly shared his designs with downthetubes a while back, which were passed on, and appear in Hibernia’s Fleetway Files title.

The Fleetway Files includes wonderful rarities such as these designs for the short-lived Wildcat comic by Ian Kennedy
The Fleetway Files includes wonderful rarities such as these designs for the short-lived Wildcat comic by Ian Kennedy
The spaceship Wildcat introduced in the Wildcat Preview Comic. Art by Ian Kennedy
The spaceship Wildcat introduced in the Wildcat Preview Comic. Art by Ian Kennedy

Barrie is well known to regular downthetubes readers – he started on Tiger comic as a subeditor, went on to be editor and eventually became head of the Boys’ Sport and Adventure Department, in which capacity he launched Roy of the Rovers comic, the new Eagle, Scream, Speed, Wildcat, Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles and Toxic Crusaders.

The title was drawn by a wide range of artists with David Pugh, José Ortiz, Ron Smith and Vanyo working on all or most issues, with contributions too, from Massimo Belardinelli, Joan Boix, Ian Kennedy,Horacio Lalia, Carlos Pino, Jesus Redondo and Mike White. (Some of these artists drawing  short one-off stories with a “Future Shock” type feel).

"Loner" from Wildcat Issue 3 . Art by David Pugh
“Loner” from Wildcat Issue 3 . Art by David Pugh
José Ortiz drew the "Kitten Magee" strip for Wildcat. Here's a page from Issue 6
José Ortiz drew the “Kitten Magee” strip for Wildcat. Here’s a page from Issue 6
A page from "Joe Alien" from Wildcat Issue 10. Art by Ron Smith
A page from “Joe Alien” from Wildcat Issue 10. Art by Ron Smith

Phil Boyce, who runs the Oink! comic blog, has run a number of features on other comics there, including Wildcat which he read when it was first published, and remains impressed by lead character Turbo Jones.

“Reading those early stories it’s shocking to see how brutal its storytelling was at times, with a lot happening in five pages, but also the attitude of this hard-nosed hero was striking even by his own standards today,” he feels. “For any Dredd fans, compare the pace of those pages above in the preview issue of Wildcat; it sets up this epic tale in no time at all, sometimes taking liberties (the funding for example) to move it along to the stage the creators wanted it to be at so they could get down to the nitty-gritty.

“… The comic had a clear plan with its stories,” he feels, “and it’s one which the other main characters would keep to as well – there’s more to things than meet the eye and don’t judge people or events at first glance.”

Wildcat Issue 3 - Cover

Some of Wildcat's utterly bonkers covers certainly caught the eye on the news stand
Some of Wildcat’s utterly bonkers covers certainly caught the eye on the news stand

Sadly for its enthusiastic readers who seem to have happily sent in alien art for its feature pages by the sack load, Wildcat lasted just twelve issues before being merged with Eagle (with Issue 368), two weeks after the final issue, giving that ailing title a circulation boost with the merger.

All four of Wildcat‘s main stories (Turbo Jones, Joe Alien, Kitten Magee and Loner) continued in Eagle on a rotating basis until April 1990, a total of 55 issues.

"Loner" from Eagle Issue 407, cover dated 8th January 1990
“Loner” from Eagle Issue 407, cover dated 8th January 1990

Two specials, a Wildcat Holiday Special and a Wildcat Winter Special, were both published in 1989 and artist David Pugh drew a piece of “Loner” art published in the 1989 United Kingdom Comic Art Convention programme.

Dave Dorman's cover for the Quality "Turbo Jones - Pathfinder" one shot published in 1991, on sale over at Comic Art Fans.
Dave Dorman’s cover for the Quality “Turbo Jones – Pathfinder” one shot published in 1991, on sale over at Comic Art Fans.

The “Turbo Jones: Pathfinder” and “Loner” strips were both reprinted by Fleetway Quality — Loner as a seven-issue mini-series in 1990 – 91, with covers by Rich Larson, and Turbo Jones – Pathfinder, with a cover by Dave Dorman currently on sale on Comic Art Fans, as a one-shot in 1991.

Details on the plans for the collection are sparse but Amazon is listing Wildcat 1 – Turbo Jones for release in January 2019. (The ‘1’ would suggest that there is more to follow).

Fleetway Files delves into the origins of Wildcat and its transfer to Eagle  – a handful of issues are left in the shop.

You can pre-order Wildcat 1 – Turbo Jones here on amazon.co.uk (using this link helps support downthetubes) – out in January 2019

• Pre-order the Jinty collection, Fran from the Floods – out in March 2019

Note that these are advance listing dates and may be subject to change!

• The Fleetway Files available in print from the Comicsy website here. – in very limited quantities! 

• There is a digital edition Fleetway Files available for 4.99, please send payments via Paypal to doomlord@eircom.net and Hibernia will forward a PDF within the day

With thanks to David McDonald for the heads up

Wildcat © Rebellion Publishing Limited

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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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